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Journey to Forever
The Soil and Health
An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard -- the works of Sir Albert Howard
The Waste Products of Agriculture -- Their Utilization as Humus by Albert Howard and Yeshwant D. Wad
Farming and Gardening for Health or Disease (The Soil and Health) by Sir Albert Howard
The Earth's Green Carpet by Louise E. Howard
Sir Albert Howard in India by Louise E. Howard
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price
The Wheel of Health by G.T. Wrench
The Restoration of the Peasantries, With especial reference to that of India by G.T. Wrench
Reconstruction by Way of the Soil by G. T. Wrench
Nutrition and Health by Sir Robert McCarrison
The Saccharine Disease: Conditions caused by the Taking of Refined Carbohydrates, such as Sugar and White Flour by T. L. Cleave
The Medical Testament
Ill Fares the Land by Dr. Walter Yellowlees
Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands: Four Lectures from a Rural Practice -- Dr Walter Yellowlees
Towards a Sustainable Agriculture -- The Living Soil by Lady Eve Balfour
Weeds -- Guardians of the Soil by Joseph A. Cocannouer
Common-Sense Compost Making -- by the Quick Return Method by Maye E. Bruce
The Pioneering Pig by Norman Blake
Seaweed and Plant Growth -- from "Seaweed in Agriculture and Horticulture", by W.A. Stephenson
This Famishing World by Alfred W. McCann
Voedzame Traditionele Voeding -- Dutch translation of "Nourishing Traditions", Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
Soil and humus
Selman A. Waksman
Principles of Soil Microbiology by Selman A. Waksman
The Soil and the Microbe: An Introduction to the Study of the Microscopic Population of the Soil and Its Role in Soil Processes and Plant Growth by Selman A. Waksman and Robert L. Starkey
Humus: Origin, Chemical Composition, and Importance in Nature by Selman A. Waksman
Farmers of Forty Centuries
Farmers of Forty Centuries -- or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan by F. H. King
Soil Management by F. H. King
The Soil: Its Nature, Relations, and Fundamental Principles of Management by F. H. King
Ley Farming by Sir R. George Stapledon and William Davies
The Clifton Park System of Farming by Robert H. Elliot
Fertility Farming by Newman Turner
Thirty Years Farming on the Clifton Park System by William Lamin
Ploughman's Folly by Edward H. Faulkner
Seeds mixtures for ley farming
Friend Earthworm: Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits of the Most Important Animal in the World by George Sheffield Oliver
The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits by Charles Darwin
Trees and Toadstools by M.C. Rayner
Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith
Raising catfish in a barrel
Conquest of the Land Through Seven Thousand Years by W. C. Lowdermilk
The Specialist by Charles Sale
Man and Nature
The Soul of the White Ant by Eugène N. Marais
Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them by Rolfe Cobleigh
Profitable Poultry Production by M. G. Kains
Methane Digesters For Fuel Gas and Fertilizer, With Complete Instructions For Two Working Models by L. John Fry
Nepal Biogas Plant -- Construction Manual: Construction Manual for GGC 2047 Model Biogas Plant
Put a chicken in your tank -- Harold Bate
Jean Pain: France's King of Green Gold
Micro Cogeneration: 21st Century Independent Power -- How to Design and Construct Your Own Independent Power System, by Kirk McLoren
Farm-scale ethanol fuel production plant -- the Gildred/Butterfield Fuel Alcohol Plant
The Butterfield Still -- the FSB Energy Fuel Alcohol Plant.
Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel, The Mother Earth News, 1980
The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel, by S.W. Mathewson
The Sunflower Seed Huller and Oil Press, by Jeff Cox
VITA -- Volunteers in Technical Assistance -- 160 VITA publications
Agrodok -- Series of 44 books on small-scale sustainable agriculture
FAO Better Farming Series -- Series of 44 manuals
Classic manuals online -- 46 classic books for backyarders, homesteaders, small farms and tropical development
The Soil and Health
An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard, Oxford University Press, 1940.
This is the book that started the organic farming and gardening revolution, the result of Howard's 25 years of research at Indore in India. The essence of organics is brilliantly encapsulated in the Introduction, which begins: "The maintenance of the fertility of the soil is the first condition of any permanent system of agriculture." Read on! Full explanation of the Indore composting process and its application. Excellent on the relationship between soil, food and health. Full text online.
A review of the work of the founder of the organic farming movement, Sir Albert Howard, by Keith Addison: "I'll never finish reading this book -- I've read it through three times and referred to it scores of times, and each time I learn something new. Meanwhile I've read Howard's other books, and a lot of his papers and essays, and a great deal besides. I've talked to many other people, seen many other organics projects, farms and gardens in many different areas; I've used these techniques myself in a variety of settings, and it all confirms Howard's thesis. I still see it mostly in the Third World development context. To me organic farming is THE basic appropriate technology for rural areas. It's the best place to start -- get this right and so many of the other problems will simply vanish." Includes a short bibliography and links to Howard's major works and many of his published papers.
The Waste Products of Agriculture -- Their Utilization as Humus by Albert Howard and Yeshwant D. Wad, Oxford University Press, London, 1931
Where Howard's "An Agricultural Testament" charts a new path for sustainable agriculture, this previous book describes how the Indore composting system which was the foundation of the new movement was developed, and why. Howard's most important scientific publication. Full text online.
Farming and Gardening for Health or Disease (The Soil and Health) by Sir Albert Howard, Faber and Faber, London, 1945, Devin-Adair 1947, Schocken 1972
This is Howard's follow-up to An Agricultural Testament, extending its themes and serving as a guide to the new organic farming movement as it unfolded -- and encountered opposition from the chemical farming lobby and the type of agricultural scientists Howard referred to as "laboratory hermits". Together, the two books provide a clear understanding of what health is and how it works. Full text online.
The Earth's Green Carpet by Louise E. Howard, Faber and Faber, 1947
In this unusually clear book, Lady Howard (Sir Albert Howard's wife), has written a "layman's introduction" which is also a work of literary distinction. Her subject is nothing less than the life cycle studied as a whole, and this leads inevitably to the importance of a reformed agriculture for the health of the community. She saw the need for a popular introduction to her husband's revolutionary ideas and principles, and her book draws a vivid picture of what lies behind the appearance of the Earth's green carpet. "Nature is not concerned to give us simple lessons," Lady Howard says -- and yet she transmits them here with admirable simplicity and clarity, a delight to read. More than an introduction, the book is a survey of the whole body of work of the pioneers of organic farming and growing. Full text online.
Sir Albert Howard in India by Louise E. Howard, Faber & Faber, London, 1953, Rodale 1954
Albert and Gabrielle Howard worked as fellow plant scientists and fellow Imperial Economic Botanists to the Government of India for 25 years, and this is a study of their work by Sir Albert's second wife Louise (sister of Gabrielle, who died in 1930). It's a classic study of effective Third World development work. Initially involved with improving crop varieties, the pair soon concluded it was futile to fiddle with seeds unless the work took full account of the system and circumstances as a whole. Thus developed a sustained interest in putting agricultural research into its right relation with the needs of the people, and a fundamental belief in peasant wisdom. Results were useful only if they could be translated into peasant practice. This led to the development of the famous Indore system of composting organic wastes: improved seeds were no use in impoverished soils. It's a great story. Full text online.
Weston A. Price
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, 1939, Paul B. Hoeber, Inc, New York, London
Weston Price (1870-1948) was truly "the Charles Darwin of nutrition". He discovered what health is made of, and proved it beyond any doubt. In the early 1930s Price travelled more than 100,000 miles to study the diets and health of isolated primitive peoples all over the world, at a time when such communities still existed -- people "who were living in accordance with the tradition of their race and as little affected as might be possible by the influence of the white man". What he found makes fascinating reading, turning many of our modern ideas on their heads -- far from living lives that were "nasty, brutish and short", these people were healthy, vigorous and happy, with few or none of the modern diseases of degeneration. Then Price compared these communities to other, less isolated groups of the same peoples, exposed to the "trade foods" produced by industrial society (processed foods grown by synthetic farming methods), in the shape of the "white man's store". He found it takes only one generation of eating industrialized food to destroy health and immunity. But he leaves us with the promise of regeneration -- thwarted health can be recaptured. Full text online. See Journey to Forever's review of this extraordinary book, plus links to further reviews and resources.
Note: "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" is in the public domain in many countries, and in other countries it is still under copyright protection. Please check your country's rules at the following website to see if you are entitled to free access or not (the book was written in 1939, Dr. Price died in 1948):
Buy the book at Amazon.com (8th edition, 2008): Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
The Wheel of Health by G.T. Wrench, Daniel, 1938
Dr. Wrench's classic exploration of the Hunza, a mountain people renowned for their longevity and vigor. By approaching the problem of disease from the angle of a study of a perfectly healthy people, Wrench shows that health depends on environmental wholeness, of which a whole diet is the vital factor, and that a whole diet means not only the right sorts of foods, but their right cultivation as well. An examination of the agricultural technique of the most successful cultivators of East and West shows what an essential part of the wheel of health -- from man to soil, from soil to plant, from plant to man -- is the farmer's renewal and protection of the soil. Full text online.
The Restoration of the Peasantries, With especial reference to that of India by G.T. Wrench, Daniel, 1939.
Argues, in Wrench's wise and admirable style, that the health -- indeed, the very continuation of our civilization -- depends on the health and prosperity of agricultural producers, and shows how the thrust of finance-based civilization has worked to destroy their very existence. A fascinating look at how villages work -- and how they're reduced to poverty and worse. Full text online.
Reconstruction by Way of the Soil by G. T. Wrench, Faber and Faber, 1946
An outline history of the relation between civilization and the soil, by a most intelligent writer. A universal history of agriculture and a series of striking examples of the effects of civilizations upon their primary biological resources. Dr. Wrench states the essential principles of sound agronomy and gives examples of their fulfilment or violation in China, Mesopotamia, the Roman Empire, Islamic Spain, England, in Africa since the coming of the Europeans, in Egypt and India and the Dutch Empire, in the British colonies, in the U.S.S.R. and in the U.S.A. An eloquent plea for the recognition of natural laws in the symbiosis of soil and civilization. Full text online.
Nutrition and Health, by Sir Robert McCarrison -- McCarrison's Cantor Lectures, to the Royal Society of Arts in 1936, Faber and Faber, London, 1953. After joining the Indian Medical Service in 1901 Robert McCarrison spent his early years in the Northern Frontier region investigating the legendary Hunza tribe, mountain people who lived to a vigorous old age and never got sick. He discovered why, and proved it in a series of experiments at the Nutrition Research Laboratories at Coonoor in India. It was the food they ate -- and, just as important, not just what food, but how it was grown. Unless it was grown in fertile soil, it was not health-giving food. Most doctors study disease; McCarrison had the rare opportunity to study health instead, as well as the lack of health among other races in the southern part of India subsisting on a poor diet. His findings put the fledgling science of nutrition on a whole new footing. McCarrison's Cantor Lectures describe his experiments as Director of Nutrition Research in India, the results, and the implications for health and nutrition. With photographs. Full text online.
The Saccharine Disease: Conditions caused by the Taking of Refined Carbohydrates, such as Sugar and White Flour by T. L. Cleave, John Wright, 1974
Surgeon Captain T.L. Cleave (1906-83), Director of Medical Research at the Royal Naval Medical School, whittled down the root cause of dozens of the ills of industrial societies to one simple factor, also noted by nutrition pioneer Sir Robert McCarrison: their dependence on refined carbohydrates -- the "master-disease". Full text online.
The Medical Testament published by the 31 doctors of the Cheshire Panel Committee in England on March 22 1939 was a milestone in the development of the infant organic farming movement. It acknowledged great advances in the realm of cures, but rather the opposite when it came to prevention. It also explained why this was so, and offered the remedy, plus the proof of it: "A fertile soil means healthy crops, healthy animals and healthy human beings." This is a classic document, often referred to and reprinted in books and papers written at the time and subsequently, but now long out of print -- a lost classic. We tracked down a copy of the original pamphlet, plus some of the associated documents and publications -- 15 papers in all, virtually a book, all available here in full-text. Includes work by pioneer of nutrition Sir Robert McCarrison, organic farming founder Sir Albert Howard, Lionel Picton, Dr. G.T. Wrench, J.I. Rodale, Dr Walter Yellowlees, and some of the pioneers of organic farming. This is what organic growing is all about.
Introduction: Medical Testament - The Nature of Health
Ill Fares the Land by Dr. Walter Yellowlees, The James MacKenzie Lecture, 1978; Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 1979, 29, 7-21. Scottish rural GP Dr Yellowlees argues passionately for a return to sanity from the lunacy of fragmentation in agriculture, food manufacture and medical treatment of the ills these fragmentations produce, pleading for a return to the wholeness which leads to true health in soil, plant, animal and man. (10,000 words.) Full text online.
Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands: Four Lectures from a Rural Practice by W.W. Yellowlees, 1985. Dr Walter Yellowlees discusses disease in terms of the work of McCarrison, Cleave, Weston Price, Albert Howard and the organic growing movement. What he finds is "the result of a long chain of events determined by man's relationship to his land and its crops. Seldom in the writings of our highly skilled specialists is there a glimmer of the truth that there is a unity in the health of the soil, the health of plants and animals, and of man. The worship of technology finds little time for a comprehension of nature's laws, or for the humility to understand that we cannot defy nature without being punished." (17,000 words.) Full text online.
Towards a Sustainable Agriculture -- The Living Soil, by Lady Eve Balfour. This classic text on the organic movement is an address given by the late Lady Eve Balfour, author of the organics classic "The Living Soil and the Haughley Experiment", to an IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) conference in Switzerland in 1977. See also Eve Balfour on Earthworms, below.
Weeds -- Guardians of the Soil by Joseph A. Cocannouer, Devin-Adair, 1950.
Professor Cocannouer, who taught biology and conservation for 50 years, demonstrates how the controlled use of weeds is sound ecology, good conservation and a boon to the gardener and farmer. Weeds as indicators of soil conditions, weeds as companion plants, weeds as hay and fodder, for opening up the subsoil, remineralizing the topsoil, for restoring worn-out and eroded land. A wise and liberating book! Full-text online.
See also Fertility Farming by Newman Turner, Chapter 6. Making Use of Weeds and Other Pests
Common-Sense Compost Making -- by the Quick Return Method by Maye E. Bruce, Faber & Faber, London, 1946
In the 1930s and 40s, Maye Bruce developed a different way of composting to complement the Indore composting system developed by Sir Albert Howard and the complicated Bio-Dynamic composting methods of the Rudolf Steiner school of organic farming. Her "Quick Return Compost System" is aimed at gardeners and smallholders -- the majority -- who don't have access to livestock manure to activate their compost heaps. Instead, the "Q.R." system uses a herbal activator which turns vegetable matter alone into high-quality humus in only a few weeks, and with no need to turn the heap. This activator really works. Sixty years later it is still being made commercially: you can buy it online, or you can make it yourself, from Stinging Nettle, Yarrow, Dandelion, Camomile, Valerian, Oak Bark and Honey. Miss Bruce provides the formula and full instructions for preparation and use, and suggests alternatives if any of the six plants is unavailable. Full-text online.
The Pioneering Pig by Norman Blake, Faber & Faber, London, 1956
"Mr Blake claims that where man can make a garden, pigs can make a farm," says the fly-leaf. It's why pigs have snouts "Pigs are ideal ploughs, rooting up weeds and turning over the ground, while they manure it at the same time. They need to have a house and temporary fence to confine them to the area. As soon as it has been cleared, move the house and fence ready for the next section," says Country Smallholding Magazine. "In the building up of fertility, especially on the poor light-land farm, there is no animal more effective than the pig," says F. Newman Turner in Fertility Farming. Here's how, by a master of the subject. Full-text online, or download the PDF version (3.3Mb).
Seaweed and Plant Growth -- from "Seaweed in Agriculture and Horticulture", by W.A. Stephenson, Faber & Faber, 1968. "The whole chapter is packed with eye-opening information. It looks for instance as though the small quantity of seaweed meal I regularly add to my potting composts may play a part not only in nutrition and even in disease resistance but also in their crumb structure and water-holding capacity. Not only can these plants provide trace elements, growth substances and protection from diseases for their crops, but the seaweeds are ultimately also a potent source of soil nitrogen. Truly a useful 'workhorse'." -- Moira Ryan, Organic Gardening Discussion List
Alfred W. McCann
This Famishing World by Alfred W. McCann, George H. Doran, New York, 1918
The subtitle says it all: "Food follies that maim and kill the rich and the poor -- that cheat the growing child and rob the prospective mother of health -- that burn up millions in treasure and fill untimely graves -- and the remedy." McCann was a journalist and food campaigner, and this is his story of what happens when food is divorced from its nature and function to become a mere industrial commodity. "Every pound of food juggled, changed, denatured or chemically treated is balanced by a pound of human flesh." Now more and more researchers are belatedly questioning the nutritional quality of our food, but most of them still only see a tiny part of the full picture McCann painted 84 years ago, and Price, McCarrison, the Cheshire medical panel, Pottenger, Cleave, Yellowlees and others after him. Full text online (with thanks to Kirk and Karen McLoren).
Voedzame Traditionele Voeding -- Dutch translation of Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon en Mary Enig, herziene 2de druk, Washington 2001. In de reeks van de werken van Weston A. Price, roept Nourishing Traditions veganisten en vegetariers op om een bepaalde mate van dierlijk voedsel - zoals ook goede biologische melk en eieren - te beschouwen als essentieel voor het menselijke leven. We kunnen dit niet kunstmatig vervangen, maar moeten ook streven naar biologisch voedsel van goede vruchtbare mineraalrijke bodem, en dit op de juiste manier bereiden. Men kan uit dit boek leren om betere voedselkeuzes te maken. Met toestemming voor de internetpublicatie van Sally Fallon. Vertaling Rob Hundscheidt en Christine Audenaert. Acrobat file, 556kb.
Soil and humus
Professor Selman A. Waksman (18881973) of Rutgers University was the father of soil microbiology. It was his work in the 1920s and 30s that put the subject on a solid scientific foundation. Waksman coined the word "antibiotic", and won a Nobel Prize for the development of streptomycin and other antibiotics from soil actinomycetes. Sir Albert Howard often refers to Waksman's work with humus and the soil in "The Waste Products of Agriculture: Their Utilization as Humus" and "An Agricultural Testament" (see above), and indeed Waksman refers to Howard's work at the Institute of Plant Industry at Indore in India, where Howard developed and refined the Indore composting system which became the foundation of the organic farming movement. Waksman's laboratory results confirmed Howard's on-farm findings and vice versa. Waksman authored or co-authored more than 400 scientific papers and 28 books. His three main books on soil microbiology and humus can be downloaded (below) as pdf files derived from page images online at Cornell's Core Historical Literature of Agriculture library: http://chla.library.cornell.edu/
Principles of Soil Microbiology by Selman A. Waksman, Williams & Wilkins, 1927, 944 pages. Waksman's massive work of scholarship was refused by many publishers who thought there was no market for such a book, but it became a best-seller and dominated the field for decades. Acrobat pdf (90.6 Mb).
The Soil and the Microbe: An Introduction to the Study of the Microscopic Population of the Soil and Its Role in Soil Processes and Plant Growth by Selman A. Waksman and Robert L. Starkey, John Wiley & Sons, New York, Chapman & Hall, London, 1931, 269 pages. Thorough overview. Acrobat pdf (21.7 Mb).
Humus: Origin, Chemical Composition, and Importance in Nature by Selman A. Waksman, Williams & Wilkins, 1936, 508 pages. Albert Howard welcomed "Waksman's admirable monograph on humus in which the results of no less than 1,311 original papers have been reduced to order". Waksman writes at the beginning: "A knowledge of soil humus is most essential for a proper understanding of the origin and nature of the soil as well as of the processes that control plant growth" (p.4). All you have to do is read the book. Acrobat pdf (21.5 Mb).
Farmers of Forty Centuries -- F.H. King
Sir Albert Howard said F.H. King was "one of the most brilliant of the agricultural investigators of the last generation", and that King's book Farmers of Forty Centuries "should be prescribed as a textbook in every agricultural school and college in the world". King's remarkable account of his agricultural investigations in China, Korea and Japan in 1909 was an often-quoted source of inspiration for Howard in his 26 years as an agricultural investigator in India. King was Professor of Agricultural Physics at the University of Wisconsin until 1901, and then Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Division of Soil Management until he retired in 1904. He was a pioneer in the development of soil physics, which found the purely chemical approach wanting: simply providing chemical nutrients did not solve the problems of crop production. "The soil is a scene of life," King wrote, "where altered sunshine maintains an endless cycle of changes, rather than a mere chemical and mechanical mixture." King died in 1911, before he could finish Farmers of Forty Centuries, which is missing its last chapter, "Message of China and Japan to the World". However, three years later his widow, Mrs. C.B. King, published more of King's work in the book Soil Management, with the final chapter "Agriculture of Three Ancient Nations", which Mrs King had assembled from 10 of King's lectures and papers, along with much further information on the practices of the Orient in the rest of the book. Farmers of Forty Centuries, Soil Management, and The Soil, King's practical guide to soil physics, can be downloaded below as pdf files derived from page images online at Cornell's Core Historical Literature of Agriculture library: http://chla.library.cornell.edu/
Farmers of Forty Centuries or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan by F. H. King, 1911, Jonathan Cape, London, 1926, 1933, 452 pages, 248 photographs, pdf (71 Mb)
Soil Management by F. H. King, New York: Orange Judd, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1914, 343 pages, illustrated, pdf (17.8 Mb)
The Soil: Its Nature, Relations, and Fundamental Principles of Management by F. H. King, 1895, Macmillan, New York, London, 1913, 321 pages, illustrated, pdf (19.9 Mb)
Ley Farming by Sir R. George Stapledon and William Davies, 1948, Faber & Faber, London. Sow a piece of land with a good pasture mixture and then divide it in two with a fence. Graze one half heavily and repeatedly with cattle, mow the other half as necessary and leave the mowings there in place to decay back into the soil. On the grazed half, you've removed the crop (several times) and taken away a large yield of milk and beef. On the other half you've removed nothing. Plough up both halves and plant a grain crop, or any crop. Which half has the bigger and better yield? The grazed half, by far. "Ley Farming" explains why "grass is the most important crop" and how to manage grass leys. Leys are temporary pastures in a rotation, and provide more than enough fertility for the succeeding crops: working together, grass and grazing animals turn the land into a huge living compost pile. Stapledon draws on the work of Robert H. Elliot of Clifton Park, whose work with deep-rooting leys was the culmination of hundreds of years of development in grass rotation farming. Full-text online.
The Clifton Park System of Farming, and laying down land to grass -- a guide to landlords, tenants and land legislators by Robert H. Elliot, introduction by Sir R. George Stapledon, 1898, 1943, Faber and Faber. The master-work of the ley farming rotational grazing system of laying down cropland to grass -- actually a complex mixture of grasses, legumes and deep-rooting herbs (aka weeds). The rotational grass ley provided beef and dairy produce, as well as enough high-grade soil fertility for a succession of grain and root crops after the grass was ploughed up -- truly sustainable farming. Full-text online. Download the PDF version (1.6Mb)
Fertility Farming by Newman Turner, 1951, Faber & Faber, London. One of the seminal books of the organic growing movement. Working with Sir Albert Howard, founder of the movement, Newman Turner, along with Friend Sykes, Lady Eve Balfour and others, was central to the development of organic farming in the 1940s and 50s. This is his first book, of three. Turner did excellent work adapting Robert H. Elliot's system of ley farming to organic methods. "This kind of farming restored life to a dying farm... The main purpose of my book is to demonstrate the simplicity and effectiveness of farming by the laws of nature; and above all to show that it can be done on the poorest of farms, by the poorest of men." Turner tells you how to do it. Full-text online.
Thirty Years Farming on the Clifton Park System -- How to supply Humus, Texture, and Fertility by the Aid of Deep-Rooting Grasses by William Lamin, Faber and Faber, 1944. "I quite agree with Sir Albert about the compost heap -- but you want the compost heap all over the farm. The only way to get the humus back to the land is by R. H. Elliot's mixture of deep-rooting grass for a four years ley; if you use that, you will have 'millions of men' working for you while you are asleep," says Lamin, and what he did with the dry, empty, sandy soil at his farm proved his point. Full-text online.
Ploughman's Folly, Edward H. Faulkner, Michael Joseph, London, 1945. Why do farmers plough? In examining this obvious yet seldom-asked question Faulkner laid the foundations for "ploughless farming". His views raised considerable interest and a lot of argument. "It would be a foolish man who stated that Mr. Faulkner's methods are impracticable and useless," farmer and writer A.G. Street wrote in The Farmer's Weekly. "He definitely challenges that age-old implement, the mould-board plough, and opens up another field for agricultural research..." Faulkner's theories were enthusiastically embraced by the pioneers of organic farming, and especially by ley farmers like Newman Turner.
Seeds mixtures for ley farming (EU only):
Freephone 0800 252211
Fax 01608 652256.
Friend Earthworm: Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits of the Most Important Animal in the World by George Sheffield Oliver, 1941. Dr Oliver was one of the first to harness the earthworm to the needs of the farmer and gardener -- to make highly fertile topsoil for optimum crop growth, and to produce a constant supply of cheap, high-grade, live protein to feed poultry. He devised simple yet elegant and effective systems to bring costs and labour down and productivity up to help struggling farmers to make ends meet. Oliver had an observant and critical eye and understood Nature's round. His ideas on the nature of modern food and health (or the lack of it) are only now being confirmed, half a century later. Full text online.
The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits by Charles Darwin, 1881. A classic of ecology. "All the fertile areas of this planet have at least once passed through the bodies of earthworms." Darwin had a much higher opinion of this book than of his "Origin of Species", which he had to be persuaded to write. He experimented with worms for more than 40 years. This is one of his conclusions, following a most elegant series of experiments: "One alternative alone is left, namely, that worms, although standing low in the scale of organization, possess some degree of intelligence." Darwin proved that worms make intelligent choices! This book is a rare delight. Full text online.
My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm -- The story of a self-contained farm of 160 acres, maintained in ever-increasing fertility over a period of more than sixty years, through the utilization of earthworms. A true story related to Thomas J. Barrett by the late Dr. George Sheffield Oliver -- inspiring! From "Harnessing the Earthworm" by Dr. Thomas J. Barrett, 1947.
Eve Balfour on Earthworms -- Introduction to "Harnessing the Earthworm" by Dr. Thomas J. Barrett, 1947. Lady Eve Balfour was a key figure in the forming of the organic farming movement, and one of the founders of Britain's Soil Association. 2,400-word article on building topsoil with earthworms -- and why it matters.
Albert Howard on Earthworms -- Introduction to Darwin's "The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits", Faber and Faber edition, London, 1945. The founder of the organic farming movement discusses the role of earthworms, Darwin's work, the work of Dr Oliver in the US, and much besides, in this 4,500-word introduction.
The Housefly by Professor Roy Hartenstein, School of Biology, Chemistry and Ecology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, 1983. The use of houseflies in treating sewage sludge -- and for a free source of rich protein for poultry-feed.
Trees and Toadstools by M.C. Rayner, D.Sc., Faber and Faber, 1945.
Dr Rayner can be credited with putting the mycorrhizal association on the agricultural map. Mycorrhizas are fungus-roots, a symbiotic relationship between plant roots and friendly soil fungi without which most plants cannot thrive, while many cannot even survive without their fungal partners. The fungus actually feeds the plant, and in return the plant feeds the fungus the products of the green leaf which the fungus is unable to make for itself. Enhanced by good humus maintenance and often damaged by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the mycorrhizal association is fundamental to why organic growing works. Full-text online.
Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture by J. Russell Smith, first published 1929, copyright 1950, the Devin-Adair Company, ISBN 0-933280-44-0
This is the classic work on tree crops. Russell Smith was 50 years ahead of his time, writing the basic text on agroforestry long before there was such a thing. He travelled widely and saw it all coming. The best book about trees -- it's inspired generations of environmental activists. A highly readable blueprint for the development of high-yield tree crops showing that vast, untapped food sources can be harvested from common species of trees. Smith says agriculture must be "adapted to physical conditions," that "farming should fit the land." He observed worldwide the catastrophe of hill agriculture which he described so accurately as "forest-field-plow-desert." "Tree Crops made so much sense to me that I have never been the same since... As my work took me all over the world, everywhere I could see it, thanks to Russell Smith: Agriculture in mountainous, rocky, or dry regions is a disaster, but trees are salvation." -- E. F. Schumacher. Only the Introduction, Chapters 1, 2 and 3, and Chapters 24 and 26 are reproduced here in this online edition. Get the book, it's a treasure-trove. Buy at Amazon.com: Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture
Download the complete book from CD3WD online library (58.8Mb pdf):
Raising catfish in a barrel -- A biological food chain in the back yard produces fresh fish for the table and compost for the garden, by Philip and Joyce Mahan, from Organic Gardening and Farming, November, 1973. Download pdf here.
Conquest of the Land Through Seven Thousand Years by W. C. Lowdermilk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service, 1948 -- First published as USDA Bulletin No. 99, 1939.
Dr. Lowdermilk, the assistant director of the newly created United States Soil Erosion Service, wrote this classic report on agriculture and soil erosion in 1939. He studied the record of agriculture in countries that have been under cultivation since the earliest recorded times to see what the US could learn to avoid another Dust Bowl. He discovered that soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, neglect, and conflicts between cultivators and herdsmen have helped topple empires and wipe out entire civilizations. At the same time, he learned that careful stewardship of the earth's resources, through terracing, crop rotation, and other soil conservation measures, has enabled other societies to flourish for centuries. Full-text online.
The Specialist by Charles Sale, illustrated by William Kermode, Putnam, ISBN 0911416005
The wonderful story of Lem Putt, country carpenter and specialist builder of privies. Lem actually existed, and Chic Sale knew him, and both lampoons him and respects him as "an artist in his way". Sale was an actor and "performed" this story hundreds of times, and by the time he wrote it (to copyright it in order to stop other actors stealing it) he had it honed to perfection. It's a rare delight. And it's more than that: Lem Putt knew his business. "There's a lot of fine points to puttin' up a first-class privy that the average man don't think about. It's no job for an amachoor, take you my word on it. There's a whole lot more to it than you can see by just takin' a few squints at your nabor's." This is what a water and sanitation engineer who works in developing countries said about it: "If I could recommend one course book for all wastewater engineers this would be it." Not just wastewater engineers -- Lem Putt's fine points should be everybody's fine points. Full-text online.
Man and Nature
The Soul of the White Ant by Eugène N. Marais, 1937
Eugène Marais is a forgotten genius. He was master of a science that hadn't yet been invented; he postulated natural mechanisms and systems that were not identified by mainstream science for another 40 years. Neither science nor society has yet caught up with many of his findings and conclusions. As a natural scientist it was the mind of man, the human psyche, that preoccupied Marais. To unlock the key to its nature it was to nature that he turned, rather than to other humans. He followed two parallel paths, the study of the animals most like humans, the primates, and the study of creatures that could hardly be more alien to us, termite colonies -- white ants. In both fields his findings were revolutionary. He developed a fresh and radically different view of how a termite colony works, and indeed of what a termite colony is, far in advance of any contemporary work. This is The Soul of the White Ant, and it's about much more than termites. A rare gem, and a rare delight to read. Full-text online.
Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them by Rolfe Cobleigh, Orange Judd Company, 1910
Not just nostalgia -- Cobleigh's devices and techniques were good answers to common farm problems and they're just as functional and useful now as they were then. Make your own workshop tools, a simple fence post and stump-puller, fences and gates that don't sag, building a farmhouse, barns and outbuildings, a bicycle-powered washing machine, a dog-powered pump, a lightweight orchard ladder, a portable chicken coop, a stone boat (for moving stone) and much more. Cobleigh's out to save you time and money -- a treasure for small farmers or homesteaders and anyone wanting to be more self-sufficient. Illustrated, good old-style writing, punctuated with quotes from Shakespeare or a local farmer, whichever's apt. Workshop and Tools, The Steel Square, In and Around the House, Barns and Stock, Poultry and Bees, Garden and Orchard, Field and Wood, Gates and Doors, When We Build, Worth Knowing. Full text online. With thanks to Kirk McLoren.
Profitable Poultry Production by M. G. Kains, Orange Judd Company, 1910
"Poultry production is commonly practiced on every farm, but profitable poultry production so far as the farm is concerned, is rare indeed. No one, as a rule, has better natural conditions for poultry raising than has the farmer. It is only a matter of embracing opportunities that is wanting." Kains tells you how -- how-to's, plans, studies, and sound common-sense from long before confinement systems. The plans and drawings of coops and housing systems are a treasure in themselves. Kains was Poultry Editor of the American Agriculturist Weeklies, and author of the classic "Five acres and independence: a practical guide to the selection and management of the small farm", published in 1935 and still in print. Many thanks to Kirk McLoren for scanning this book. Full text online.
See the Biogas page
Methane Digesters For Fuel Gas and Fertilizer, With Complete Instructions For Two Working Models -- by L. John Fry, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93103, © 1973, Eighth Printing (out of print). Excellent manual on making and using methane -- biogas. Fry developed his techniques while running a pig farm in South Africa, designing the first full scale displacement methane plant. Good information on integrating biogas production with gardening and farming, and with pond-culture food production. Designs for a Sump Digester using 55-gal oil drums and an Inner Tube Digester. Full-text online. With thanks to Kirk McLoren.
Interview: L. John Fry
Interview: Ram Bux Singh
Nepal Biogas Plant -- Construction Manual. Construction Manual for GGC 2047 Model Biogas Plant. With Dutch and German support, Nepal's Biogas Support Programme has built 95,400 biogas plants in 10 years, with potential for half a million more. These are fixed dome biogas plants, designed in Nepal. Sizes are household-scale from 4 to 20 cubic metres. The feedstock is cattle dung and water (but other feedstocks will work just as well). For instance, the 4-cubic-metre plant requires input from 2-3 cattle, the 10-cubic-metre plant needs 6-9 cattle. This manual includes full construction details, plans and data. Full-text online. With thanks to Olivier Morf.
Put a chicken in your tank -- Eccentric British inventor Harold Bate found a way of converting chicken droppings to biogas and running his car on it. He claimed chicken power would run a car faster, cleaner, and better than gasoline. Bate said he'd driven his 1953 Hillman at speeds up to 75 mph without the use of gasoline.
Jean Pain: France's King of Green Gold -- Frenchman Jean Pain built a home-made power plant that supplies 100% of the his energy needs. The core of the system is a 50-ton compost mound, three metres high and six across, made of pulverized tree limbs and underbrush. Buried inside the compost is a 4-cubic-metre sealed steel tank 3/4-full of the same compost, producing methane -- bio-gas. Tubes connect the tank to a pile of 24 truck-tyre inner tubes, the gas reservoir. Pain uses the gas to cook all the food, fuel a truck and produce electricity, via a methane-fuelled internal combustion engine that turns a generator. Another tube runs from a well and into the heap, with 200 metres of tubing wound round the tank, the water emerging at 60 deg C at 4 litres a minute, enough for central heating, the bathroom and the kitchen. The compost heap continues fermenting for nearly 18 months, and then yields 50 tons of natural fertilizer. (With thanks to Ramjee Swaminathan.)
Biogas manuals -- complete pdf e-books for downloading:
A Chinese Biogas Manual -- Popularising Technology in the Countryside, edited by Ariane van Buren from the original by the Office of the Leading Group for the Propagation of Marshgas, Sichuan (Szechuan) Province, Peoples' Republic of China, technical editor Leo Pyle, translator Michael Crook, Intermediate Technology Publications, 1979, original publishers: Science Publishing House, 1976, China, ISBN 0 903031 65 5 -- 12.6Mb pdf
Compost, fertilizer, and biogas production from human and farm wastes in the People's Republic of China. Ottawa, IDRC, 1978, ISBN 0-88936-140-l, 94p. Editors Michael G. McGarry and Jill Stainforth, translated by Lee Thim Loi from "A Compilation of Data on the Experience and Sanitary Management of Excreta and Urine in the Village", published by The People's Hygiene Publisher, People's Republic of China. 7.8Mb pdf
Biogas technology in the Third World: a multidisciplinary review, Andrew Barnett, Leo Pyle, S. K. Subramanian, IDRC, Ottawa, Ont., 1978, ISBN O-88936-162-2, 132 p. 14.4Mb pdf
Biogas Systems in lndia, by Robert Jon Lichtman, VITA/COSTED, ISBN O-86619-167-4, 1983, 142pp. 11.7Mb pdf
Biogas and Waste Recycling -- The Philippine Experience, by Felix DI Maramba, Sr., 1978, Liberty Flour Mills, Philippines, 32.3Mb pdf
Biogas plants in animal husbandry -- a practical guide, by Uli Werner, Ulrich Stöhr, Nicolai Hees, GATE/GTZ, 1989, ISBN J-528-02048-2, 157 pp. 17.2Mb pdf
Tubular Plastic Bio-digesters in Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe & China, selected & edited by John Furze, 1997/1998/2002, University of Aarhus, Denmark, 257pp. 24.3Mb pdf
How To Install A Polyethylene Biogas Plant, by Francisco X. Aguilar, Agronomic Engineer, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester (991 kb pdf)
Biogas: What it is; How it is made; How to use it -- FAO Better Farming Series 31 (read online):
Biogas 2: Building a Better Biogas Unit -- FAO Better Farming Series 32 (read online):
Micro Cogeneration: 21st Century Independent Power -- How to Design and Construct Your Own Independent Power System -- First Edition, 1993, by Kirk McLoren, Independent Power, Billings, Montana. Covers all aspects of this most useful subject, from thinking about it to putting it all together, and everything in between.
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Farm-scale ethanol fuel production plant -- the Gildred/Butterfield Fuel Alcohol Plant, winner of the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Ethanol Fuel Plant Design Competition: Floyd Butterfield's on-farm still operation in full, complete with blueprints. Plant Description, Plant Operating Manual, Plant Performance Data, Plant Construction Guide, Recommendations, Appendixes and eight blueprints of the still, cooker and operating set-up. Operates continuously, 24 hours per day, 10 gallons per hour of 190 proof ethanol. Includes screw press blueprints and construction details. With thanks to Garle A. Webb.
The Butterfield Still -- This report provides details of the design, construction, operation and performance of the FSB Energy Fuel Alcohol Plant.
Mother Earth Alcohol Fuel -- a guide to the fine points of home alcohol production, Mother's Alcohol Fuel Seminar, The Mother Earth News, 1980 (out of print)
In 1978 The Mother Earth News research team started studying methods and distillation processes, testing mash formulas, designing apparatus, compiling information, converting engines and running seminars, spending upwards of US$300,000 on the project. This manual is the result.
Basic information, methods, different feedstocks, processing, mash recipes, still designs and plans, low-cost backyard stills, Alcohol as an Engine Fuel, How To Adapt Your Automobile Engine For Ethyl Alcohol Use, Do-It-Yourself Water Injection System, MOTHER's Waste Oil Heater, and more. Full text online.
The Manual for the Home and Farm Production of Alcohol Fuel
by S.W. Mathewson, Ten Speed Press, 1980 J.A. Diaz Publications (out of print)
This excellent manual gives you all the information you need to get going with making your own alcohol fuel. Aimed at small-scale production, good chapters on fuel theory, everything about feedstocks, processing, fermentation, yeast, using ethanol, distillation. Full text online.
The Sunflower Seed Huller and Oil Press -- by Jeff Cox (from Organic Gardening, April 1979, Rodale Press): Vegetable oils used to be one of those items you just HAD to buy. Now here's how to make your own. In 2,500 square feet, a family of four can grow each year enough sunflower seed to produce three gallons of homemade vegetable oil suitable for salads or cooking and 20 pounds of nutritious, dehulled seed -- with enough broken seeds left over to feed a winter's worth of birds.
VITA -- Volunteers in Technical Assistance: US-based private, nonprofit, international development organization, worked for 42 years helping to empower the poor and fostering self-sufficiency in developing countries. VITA published a wide range of practical guides and how-to's, from a few pages to complete manuals of 200 pages and more, with clear instructions and easy-to-follow plans and illustrations. Useful guides on agriculture and animal husbandry, building and construction, business, industry and crafts, communication and transportation, energy, food processing, health and nutrition, stoves, ovens and kilns, water supply, natural resources, conservation. VITA publications are available in full-text free online at Alex Weir's CD3WD 3rd World Development online library -- see list of VITA publications, with direct links for online access.
Agrodok -- Popular series of 44 books on small-scale sustainable agriculture, published by the Agromisa Knowledge Centre for Small Scale Sustainable Agriculture, based in Wageningen in the Netherlands. The Agrodok books focus on the tropics, but the information is relevant anywhere. Clear and concise but thorough illustrated guides, savvy, written from experience, well presented. Titles cover compost, soil fertility, green manuring, erosion control, water harvesting, soil moisture, fruit growing, the vegetable garden, urban agriculture, agroforestry, seed production, mushrooms, greenhouses, granaries, storage, preservation, crop protection, donkeys for traction and tillage, pigs, chickens, goats, dairy cattle, fish, rabbits, ducks, bees and honey, marketing, cooperatives. In English, French, many also in Portuguese and Spanish. The full series of 44 books are available for free download as pdf files from Agromisa (http://www.agromisa.org/), 34 titles can be downloaded direct from the Small Farms Library, see list of titles with direct links for online access.
Better Farming Series, FAO Economic and Social Development Series No. 3, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Institut africain de developpement economique et social (INADES), Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 1976 to 1995 -- Series of 44 manuals covering plants, soil, crops, livestock, poultry, fish farming, water, energy, farm business, and more. Prepared for an African environment but the series can be used anywhere, with adaptations to different climatic and ecological conditions where necessary. The approach of the books is general, in order to create a basic model that can be modified or expanded to fit local conditions. Practical and to-the-point guides, written simply and clearly, illustrated, 30-100 pages. The whole series is available in full-text free online at Alex Weir's CD3WD 3rd World Development online library. See full list of titles with direct links for online access.
Classic manuals online -- 46 classic books for backyarders, homesteaders, small farms and tropical development, many of them hard to find, with direct links to Alex Weir's CD 3rd World online library for free downloading. In graphic pdf format. See full list.
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