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The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  50 ratings  ·  8 reviews
During his years as a scientist working for the British government in India, Sir Albert Howard conceived of and refined the principles of organic agriculture. Howard's The Soil and Health became a seminal and inspirational text in the organic movement soon after its publication in 1945. The Soil and Health argues that industrial agriculture, emergent in Howard's era and do ...more
Paperback, 307 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by University Press of Kentucky (first published January 1st 1972)
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Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Sir Albert Howard wrote On Soil and Health to sum up a lifetime of work and advocacy in favor of a type of agriculture which focuses on the health and the sustainability on which the agriculture depends. I read it due to a note in Wendell Berry about Howard’s profound influence on him, as well as Howard’s background as an agricultural scientist, as well as his background farming successfully in India.

There are many aspects of this book, from an autobiographical section detailing Howard’s growth
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sir Albert Howard is probably a name that most of us are not or have not been familiar with. However, he is an early progenitor of the now “modern” locovore movement that is thankfully growing throughout the country. The Soil and Health is a collection of notes taken by Howard early last century as he studied the effects of compost and manure on farming. The gist of the book can be summed up in a single quote: “Howard’s fundamental assumption was that the processes of agriculture, if they are to ...more
Nov 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Farmers
Entertainment-0 Stars
Education- 1 Star
Readability- 0 star
Innovation- 1 Stars
Inspiration- .5 Star

This thing was pretty hard to read (not to pick on a dead guy). I read a LOT of non fiction and this was definitely a slog. If I were actually building a compost heap and growing food, it would probably be somewhat relevant to my life. It was not without it's merits though. I learned a lot (mainly about dirt and the history of organic farming, and farming in general). There are s
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
A corner-stone book in organic agriculture, this book should complete the theoretical background of my reading so that I can move on to the practical stuff related to becoming a farmer!

Well, the book served the above purpose. But it was slow and sort of disappointing. On one hand, the principles articulated in the book will likely serve the foundation for any farming/gardening I do for the rest of my life and on the other hand, I struggled through it and didn't even quite finish it y
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
A classic work on the importance of soil health and compost for the state of our agricultural systems. A little wordy, and for those educated in the science of organic agriculture and composting, it will also seem a little elementary at times. Yet embedded in this work are many gems of wisdom and great reminders about the vital importance of caring for the "green carpet" on planet Earth.
Oct 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Sir Albert was organic when organic wasn't cool. Take that, Michael Pollan!

Also he exploited colonial British land and labor for his agricultural experiments. It's fun to start a movement when it's on the backs of Indian farmers.
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Sir Albert Howard (8 December 1873 – 20 October 1947) was an English botanist, an organic farming pioneer, and a principal figure in the early organic movement. He is considered by many in the English-speaking world to have been, along with Rudolf Steiner and Eve Balfour, one of the key founders of modern organic agriculture.
“The soil is, as a matter of fact, full of live organisms. It is essential to conceive of it as something pulsating with life, not as a dead or inert mass. There could be no greater misconception than to regard the earth as dead: a handful of soil is teeming with life. The living fungi, bacteria, and protozoa, invisibly present in the soil complex, are known as the soil population. This population of millions and millions of minute existences, quite invisible to our eyes of course, pursue their own lives. They come into being, grow, work, and die: they sometimes fight each other, win victories, or perish; for they are divided into groups and families fitted to exist under all sorts of conditions. The state of a soil will change with the victories won or the losses sustained; and in one or other soil, or at one or other moment, different groups will predominate.” 5 likes
“The appearance of a pest should be regarded as a warning from Mother Earth to put our house in order.” 3 likes
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