Were it not that it is only in comparatively recent years that it has become possible to prepare the soil satisfactorily on a commercial basis without the plough, one might be amazed at the apparent slowness of farmers to dispense with this tool. But it is only with the development of the tractor, and the heavy disc harrow which could not be drawn by horses, that it has become possible to incorporate organic matter and green crops effectively into surface soil which has lost its friability.
The methods described in this book work well on my land, and I am convinced they apply to any type of soil, in any part of the world. They are the methods practised by nature in any part of the world. They are the methods practised by nature on all ranges of soil, from the thinnest shale to the deepest loam. Even on a rock, nature enables plants to grow, so long as the seed is provided with a light covering of organic matter to hold the moisture, gather nutrients from the air, and supply the products of decay. If nature can grow a vigorous and healthy plant on a rock, as any student of the countryside may see for himself, then there is no excuse for the farmer or gardener, with soil at his disposal, to have to resort to artificial methods of crop production. This is clearly the clue to our downfall as husbandmen. We have had the audacity to assume that we know better than God. We have believed we could improve on the ways of nature and we find ourselves under the threat of famine, in spite of so-called scientific genius. God in His goodness has provided the means to abundance; we in our greed and arrogance have perverted and destroyed. The only way we can repair the harm we have done is to give nature a chance to work in her own way and, as far as we must interfere by way of farming and gardening, let it be in imitation of nature rather than in battle against nature.
There is one further provision which is essential to complete the cycle of fertility and it is an urgent and imperative one if Britain is to evade eventual starvation. That is the return to the soil -- properly composted, to avoid unpleasantness -- of all sewage sludge and organic town refuse. I will not elaborate on this matter, though it is fundamental to the whole future of soil fertility, because this is a farmer's book and the utilization of town wastes is a national problem which must soon have official attention. The colossal funds absorbed by the chemical 'fertilizer' industry from the farmers of the world -- three hundred million pounds a year -- could well be diverted to this essential step against starvation, with immense and permanent benefits to the whole of mankind.
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