Health begins in the soil. “He who works the soil will toil” Yogi Bhajan

Welcome To The Holistic Agriculture Library

Albrecht, William A. "Loss Of Soil Organic Matter And Its Restoration". Soils and Men: USDA Yearbook of Agriculture. Washington, D.C., United States Department of Agriculture, 1938.

Each year, the practice going on for for several decades, the United States Department of Agriculture published a yearbook. This particular Yearbook of Agriculture, Soils and Men, is widely considered the best of the lot. And this article by William Albrecht may well be la crème de la crème. It is our hope to eventually present the entire yearbook online. 

Albrecht, William A. Soil Fertility And Animal Health. Webster City, Iowa: Fred Hahne Printing Co, 1958. Reprinted by Acres, USA as The Albrecht Papers, Vol. II, currently in print. To contact Acres, click here.

If only this book could be offered online in its entirety it would be clear to the online reader that here is one of the most important books in the Soil And Health Library. As it is, Australian copyright law allows presentation of only a small portion, so the best and perhaps most famous of Albrecht's statements was chosen, "Chapter 8, Cows Are Capable Chemists." 

Albrecht, William A. A collection of journal and magazine articles, experiment station and other government publications.

For starters find herein what probably is Albrecht's single most important statement connecting soil fertility with animal and human health.

Balfour, Lady Eve. "Toward a Sustainable Agriculture--The Living Soil". A talk about the Haughley Experiment, given by Lady Balfour at an IFOAM conference in Switzerland, 1977.

Balfour, Lady Eve. The Living Soil: London: Faber and Faber, 1948

An organic classic. Among other things this book narrates how Lady Balfour organized a farm, Haughley, where comparative experiments were done to prove the superiority of organic methods. It also states the organic case as thoroughly and passionately and reasonably as could be done. 

Burbank, Luther. Partner of Nature. Ed. Wilbur Hall. New York: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1939.

Burbank, a brilliant and self-educated plant breeder wrote voluminously about his work. One day more of his writings may be found on this site. Meanwhile, this abridgment by Wilbur Hall will have to suffice. Written for the person of good intelligence but a non-specialist; Burbank's intention here was to both romanticize his profession while inspiring the young to follow in his footsteps. 

Cato, On Farming. A classic of farming lore and practice from the golden era of the Roman Empire. Scholars usually call this book De Re Rustica (On Agriculture). A Critical English Translation by Andrew Dalby, author of Siren Feasts, a book on classic Greek cuisine.

Cato has information for everyone: on planting and maintaining olive groves, on supervising the staff, on making various loaves or gruels out of grains, on the manifold curative properties of cabbage, on getting good prices at market, and much, much more. Although modern translations exist, this is better: more readable, more accurate, more alert. The sensitive translation of this text and the translator's notes, and the work of putting it online were all cheerfully contributed to this library by Tom Jaine  who creates a small publishing company called Prospect Books. We hope you will visit their website and perhaps purchase an in-print paper copy of Cato or other books whose focus is on food. Anyone interested in working on a project to add other farming classics such as Varro, Columella, Ibn al Awam's Book of Agriculture, Jethro Tull's Horse-Houghing Husbandry, etc.

Darwin, Charles. The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the action of worms with observations of their habits. London, 1881.

A classic in naturalist observation. A grasp of the common earthworm's importance is essential to a full understanding of soil fertility and plant health. Thanks to David Price, "David Price" <>, for doing such an accurate scan of this book. Contains an interesting introduction by Sir Albert Howard, taken from a Faber & Faber edition, published about 1945.

Dale, Tom and Veron Gill Carter. Topsoil and Civilization. Norman, Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Press, 1955.

This classic survey of world history should never have been allowed to fall out of print. It demonstrates how every civilization from Mesopotamia to Rome has destroyed its agricultural resource base and thus destroyed itself.The book also looks at modern-day Europe and the United States with considerable uncertainty about the sustainability of our own system.

Elliot, Robert. The Clifton Park System Of Farming. London, Faber & Faber, 1943.

Originally published in 1898 as Agricultural Changes, this book's thesis was broadened by Sir Albert Howard, Newman Turner, Louis Bromfield, etc. Elliot developed a system of laying down land to grass, dependent on little input but a complex mixture of deep-rooting pasture seeds. The pasture rotations would be broken after four to eight years, row crops grown until the humus levels declined to a threatening level, and then the field would be restored to grass/clover/herbal mixtures. There is a very interesting forward by Sir R. George Stapledon. 

Ernle, Lord. English Farming Past and Present. Fifth Edition. London: Longmans, Green & Co., Ltd. 1936.

THE classic of English Farming History. Helpful, among other things to understand the development of modern farming systems. Also great writing, in the class of Gibbon. 

Faulkner, Edward H. Plowman's Folly. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1943. Downloads as a single long file.

Faulkner's book created a flurry of popular interest in alternatives to "scientific" agriculture. It is probably most important for what happened in American consciousness because of the interest it created rather than because of what the book says. 

Fukuoka, M. One Straw Revolution.

A most interesting book describing an unusual approach to farming. This book is not available through normal publishing channels in North America. Take a look at it here. If you'd like to find out how to obtain a copy of this title or of Fukuoka's Natural Way of Farming, click the link.

Graham, Michael. Soil and Sense. London, Faber & Faber, 1941.

Graham wrote before there was an understanding of the vital importances of both micorhizzal associations and production of phytamins by soil bacteria. But he still did a very good job of explaining the essences of sustainable holistic farming to the general public. This book can be considered a popularized companion to Elliot's Clifton Park System and may be valuable to gardeners seeking a better understanding of broad-acre farming. 

Henderson, George. Farmer's Progress: A Guide to Farming. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1950.

The writer, a very successful and sagacious livestock farmer with a facility for the literary, provides excellent advices to the young who may wish to enter farming as a life-work, instructions for the existing farmer that they might be more successful, and suggestions for the general public in that they might more wisely avoid interfering with the proper conduct of farming thorugh absurd bureaucratic regulation. Henderson was a crusty, enjoyable person well worthy of spending a few hour's time with. Downloads as a single PDF file of about 1.5 mb; 

Henderson, George. The Farming Ladder. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1944.

Henderson's first book, the story of his own youth and farming career. Contends that the farmer must also be a sagacious businessperson, personnel manager, etc., and provides sagely advice on how to so do. Great guide to creating a success as a farmer--or in any other business. Downloads as a single PDF file of 1.25 mb.

Hopkins, Cyril G. The Farm That Won't Wear Out. Champaign, Ill, self-published, 1913.

Originally a series of four magazine articles appearing in The Country Gentleman, and later, responding to popular demand, published as a small book by the author himself. Explains in very few pages the way to achieve a permanent agriculture. 

Hopkins, Cyril G. The Story of the Soil. Boston, Richard G. Badger, 1910.

One of the best "made-simple" holistic soil manuals ever written, all wrapped up as a romance about a bright young man with a solid ag-school education, going out to buy a farm and falling in love. WARNING. This book expresses views on race that in its day were considered quite acceptable but in our day are viewed as quite incorrect, perhaps even shocking. Those who cannot view such expressions as "historical documents," should not read The Story of the Soil. 

Hopkins, Donald P. Chemicals, Humus and the Soil. Brooklyn, NY: Chemical Publishing Company, 1948.

Hopkins makes the point that chemical fertilizers are effective and positive to the degree that humus remains in the soil; that the real problem with chemicals has been with some who suggest that chemicals can replace farmyard manure.
    Hopkins takes on the Howardites point by point and demolishes many of their positions. The book's arguments are cogent and largely correct, though Hopkins "scientific" biases distort his objectivity in areas relating to human health. This book should by carefully read by anyone that considers themselves "organic." 

Howard, Sir Albert and Yeshwant D. Wad. The Waste Products Of Agriculture: Their Utilisation As Humus. London: Oxford University Press, 1931.

Howard's most important scientific publication, detailing the nature and practice of Indore composting. As I understand Australian copyright rules, this book is considered public domain material in Australia because the principal author has been deceased for over fifty years, but it may be illegal for anyone located in many countries outside of Australia to download this book.

Howard, Sir Albert. Farming And Gardening For Health Or Disease. London: Faber and Faber, 1945.

This book is also known by the title it was given by Rodale--The Soil and Health. It chronicles Howard's story and outlines his complete understanding. Under Australian rules, this book is considered public domain material in Australia because the principal author has been deceased for over fifty years, but it may be illegal for anyone located in many countries outside of Australia to download this book.

Howard, Sir Albert. Miscellaneous Papers.

Articles from periodicals by and about Sir Albert Howard. These have been supplied by numerous patrons and friends of the library. If you have any, or library access to any of Howard's agricultural journal articles (references to them can be found in his larger works) not yet available here, please contact Steve Solomon.

Howard, Sir Albert. An Agricultural Testament. London: Oxford University Press, 1943.

Howard's first book aimed at the general public, again in print and available for purchase through the Rodale Institute. If you buy the book please tell Rodale Institute you saw it here first and our site led you to them. Under Australian copyright rules we are allowed to reproduce the book in its entirety, but out of courtesy and to support Rodale Institute's educational efforts, we offer here only the book's front matter plus one complete chapter, which you can read by clicking the link, above.

Howard, Louise E. The Earth's Green Carpet. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1947

A poetic and concise statement of the beliefs behind the Organic Farming system. Helps to understand the spirit and passions of the early organicists as well as to better comprehend the entire cycle of soil fertility and the creation of a permanent agriculture and permanent civilization. Home gardeners reading this book (and the Howards' other books) should keep in mind that these books are primarily intended for farmers, and that what is recommended in these books may be a workable system of mixedfarming but without stronger stuff than average compost may not work so well when market gardening or vegetable-gardening is contemplated.

Howard, Louise E. Sir Albert Howard in India. London: Faber & Faber, 1953.

A thorough and scholarly review of Albert and Gabrielle Howard's scientific career encompassing all the scientific literature and journal articles that would otherwise be virtually unobtainable. Following the print-on-paper book's style, the extensive quotations from the Howards' other publications are in smaller type; the serious reader of this book is advised to reset their web browser program to display type a few point sizes larger. (Louise Howard was the sister of Gabrielle, and became Howard's second wife and ardent supporter after the death of Gabrielle.) 

von Liebig, Justus. Chemical Letters, 2nd corrected edition. London: Taylor and Walton, 1844.

A few years after publication of the Chemical Letters, Liebig presented Chemistry and its applications to Agriculture and Physiology . It goes into much more detail about soil fertility, manures, etc.; eventually it is hoped to include this book too in Soil and Health Library. Our thanks to Peter Childs, for making this fine scan of the Chemical Letters available. Peter publishes Chemistry In Action, a chemistry magazine for secondary school teachers.

King, F.H. Farmers of Forty Centuries: or Traditional Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan. 1911.

A famous classic in holistic agricultural literature. King was a masterful observer of farming; this is, if nothing else, a great travel book. In the interest of faster loading we have reproduced this book without its many illustrations.

Koepf, H. H., B. D. Petterson and W. Shaumann. Bio-Dynamic Agriculture: An Introduction. Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1976.

A complete introduction to the history, philosophy, techniques, and benefits of the Bio-Dynamic school of farming and gardening, which has its origins in two of Germany's creative geniuses: Goethe and Rudolf Steiner. If you are not already familiar with the B-D approach, give this book a read. Bio-Dynamics lies somewhere between Fukuoka and Findhorn, between Perelandra and Indore's piles. If you already know about B-D, this book will undoubtedly provide fresh insight. The chapters seem a bit uneven in quality and cover a broad range of topics; feel free to jump around by using the table of contents.

Krasil'nikov, N.A. Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants. Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Moscow 1958. Translated in Israel by Dr. Y. Halperin. Printed in the USA by the Government Printing Office.

This, the ultimate study of the microbial process in soil, is one of the most important books in the library. It has been little known since its publication. Rendering it into html took hundreds of tedious and rewarding hours. The book contains 100 photographic illustrations and heaps of tables, so downloading the chapters can be a bit time consuming. Here's my "take" on this book. In the Soviet Union of the 30s, 40s and 50s, industrial production was scanty. Had Soviet agronomic research focused increasing yields through the use of chemicals, spread voluminously, the substances could not have been produced. So Krasil'nikov focused on the biological process, and he found ways to improve plant growth by crop rotation and the production of special composts and microbial ferments of the sort that could be produced by the farmer in an old barrel. All these "primitive" solutions are based on a very high-level understanding of the microbial process in soil and the interactions between soil microbes with each other, of how crop species interact with each other via long-lasting soil residues (root exudates), and how plants and microbes interact with each other. Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants is public domain material. Anyone wishing to publish the book in print on paper is invited to contact this library. They will receive all possible assistance. Apologies in advance for the many errors that despite very careful proofreading must still be in the html text.

Lowdermilk, Walter C. Conquest of the Land Through Seven Thousand Years. Soil Conservation Service Misc. Pub. No. 32, February, 1948.

A classic review of worldwide soil erosion. Many remarkable photos showing the ruins of what were once fertile, productive places that are now desert or semi-desert that can barely support struggling people--the remnants of what were once great, flourishing civilizations. 

McDonald, Angus. Early American Soil Conservationists. Soil Conservation Service Misc. Pub. No. 449, October, 1941.

During the Roosevelt administration, many uniquely-talented people worked to improve the United States through involvement with the Federal Government. In this short, well-written "book" you can meet the people who foresaw the catastrophe of soil erosion and foresaw how to solve it. And learn a few things about farming, past and present. 

Oliver, George Sheffield. Friend Earthworm: Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits of the Most Important Animal in the World. Oceanside, California: Oliver's Earthworm Farm School, 1941.

One of the all-time classics on the earthworm. Many thanks to Keith Addison, creator of Journey To Forever, for doing this fine scan/OCR job.Other interesting ag-related documents can be found in Keith's online library. OUT OF PRINT.

Rayner, M.C. Trees and Toadstools. London: Faber & Faber, 1945.

The classic study of the relationships between tree roots and fungi. Rayner's work formed the basis of the organicist contention that supporting a complete and healthy population of soil microlife is essential to plant health. Thanks to Keith Addison, Creator of Journey to Forever, for doing a fine, accurate scan/OCR job on this classic book. Other interesting ag-related documents can be found on Keith's online library. 

Rodale, J.I. The Organic Front. Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Rodale Press, 1948.

Tens of thousands were swept up by the intense enthusiasm of J.I. Rodale at the inception of the American organic gardening and farming movement. Almost immediately there developed intensely polarized antagonism between the innocent "organicist" and the technologically-proficient "chemicalist." Hostilities persisted at least into the 1980s and perhaps even longer. Of course, J.I. opposed strongly-vested interests, but still, a great deal of this conflict and misunderstanding may have been created by J.I. Rodale's own attitudes. The Organic Front will be very interesting to anyone seeking to understand the history and personalities involved in the organic gardening and farming movement. Most of this book probably consisted of articles in early issues of Organic Gardening Magazine. 

Rodale, J.I. Pay Dirt: Farming & Gardening With Composts. New York: Devin-Adair, 1946.

Rodale Instutite has protested this library offering the entire text of this book saying they are soon bringing this title back into print. To assist them, even before they have done so, the entire text has been withdrawn, and only a small portion, such as is considered "fair use" is now being presented.

Sullivan, Preston. Sustainable Soil Management: Soil System Guide. Fayetteville, Arkansas, ATTRA.

A very understandable introduction to soil science and soil management that will feel comfortable to holistic food crop growers. ATTRA is an effort of the US Department of Agriculture to assist alternative farming. 

Turner, Newman. Fertility Farming. London: Faber and Faber, 1951.

This excerpt consisting of Chapters 1-4, pages 17-45 is here to entice the reader to obtain and read the book. The intention of Soil and Health Library is that one day this entire worthy book will be available online.

Turner, Newman. Fertility Pastures: Herbal leys as the basis of soil fertility and animal health. London: Faber and Faber, 1955.

This excerpt consisting of Chapters 1, 2 and 8, pages 17-33 and 79-83 is offered here to entice the reader to obtain and read the entire book. The intention of Soil and Health Library is that one day this worthy book will be available online.

Turner, Newman. Herdsmanship. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1952.

Turner's simple remedy for most animal diseases will be of especial interest due to the recent problem in Europe with "foot and mouth" disease. An excerpt consisting of Chapters 2, 13 and 14, pgs. 23-27, 142, 143, 146-160 is offered online to entice the reader to obtain and read the entire book. The intention of Soil and Health Library is that one day this worthy book will be available online.

Voisin, André. Grass Tetany. London: Crosby Lockwood & Son Ltd.

Understanding how soil imbalances produce this livestock disease illuminates aspects of human health and nutritional requirements as well. A mind-expanding study, as are all of Voisin's contributions. .

Weaver, John E. and William Bruner. Root Development of Vegetable Crops. New York: McGraw Hill, 1927.

The classic study, filled with species-by-species illustrations, each worth tens of thousands of words to someone who wants to grow vegetables better. 

Weaver, John E. Root Development of Field Crops. New York: McGraw Hill, 1926.

It is difficult to restrain myself from praising this book with several hundred words that would be inappropriate in a "card catalog" such as this. However, Chapter I contains what may be the best basic soil's manual there is; Chapter III suggests magnificent realizations about how to grow plants with an awareness of their root activities and how that effects what one experiences above-ground. Anyone intending to grow plants well needs to study both of Weaver's books, especially the first portions of this one. Of interest to Organic growers will be Weaver's frequent citation of Albert Howard's researches in India. 

Widtsoe, John A. Dry Farming. New York: MacMillan, 1911.

Between the paragraphs of this book one can see how farmer's lack of ethics and greed led them to ignore Widtsoe's warnings, making the Great Plains dust bowls inevitable. I also found the dry-gardening insights here to complete my own book Gardening Without Irrigation. There are lots of clues for someone seeking to reduce their dependence on the water pump and grow their own food strictly on natural rainfall. This rendition is somewhat abridged: the original had many unnecessary (decorative) illustrations and a few too many tables containing evidence to support Widtsoe's contentions that today seem unnecessary. 

Yeomans, P.A. The Keyline Plan. Sydney: P.A. Yeomans, 1954.

After only three years of experimentation with the Keyline system, Yeomans self-published this, his first of several books. In the tradition of Louis Bromfield and Plowman's Folly, it is an eye-opening look at how to help land retain all the rainfall it receives, opening the whole soil body to root penetration and releasing the natural fertility of the land.This book became an agricultural best seller and sold out. It is still sought after by collectors. The book is offered here through the express permission of Allan Yeomans, who himself is writing a book offering a cure of global warming through better farming by increasing the carbon retained in the earth as humus. Allan Yeomans also runs a farm-implement company in Queensland; a pre-publication version of Allan Yeoman's book can be read and Allan and his farm implement company can be reached  through his website.

Yeomans, P.A. The Challenge of Landscape. Sydney: Keyline Publishing PTY, Ltd., 1958.

This massive illustration-filled book is primarily a practical farming textbook focused on water conservation and small-scale dam construction and gravity-fed irrigation projects. Especially useful for practicing sustainable rainfall-dependent farming above the broad flood plain where water is always feast or famine. Made available here with the express permission of Allan Yeomans.

Yeomans, P.A. The City Forest: The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution. Sydney: Keyline Publishing, 1971.

This is a tiny book of barely 100 small pages written in very compressed form, chock-a-block full of partially-developed insight. It should not be the first of Yeomans' books that a person reads, as having the background of his earlier works it will become more comprehensible. It is almost a utopian plan for human betterment, having as much or more to do with city planning and landscape architecture on a macro-scale as it does with farming. Made available here with the express permission of Allan Yeomans.

Why This Library

    Radical agriculture is a study of, and program for, handling the close connection between the health of the soil and the health of those organisms that feed from that soil. Those "organisms" include human beings.
    Modern, industrial agriculture primarily focuses on the size and volume of the crop harvested (bulk yield), and the commercial aspects of that production (profit). It tends to pay small attention to the nutritional content of the food we grow. Aside from obsessive cancerfearmongering connected with pesticide residues in our food, popular consciousness pays far to little attention to the mass degeneration resulting from eating the industrial food we grow. This degeneration includes a lot of human misery and sickness, a greatly shortened lifespan and an enormously lowered level of civilization, because, simply, we don't live long enough to get enough smart.
    As industrial agriculture began to prevail, certain far-sighted individuals asked worrisome questions about the wisdom of managing farms for bulk yield and profit. Their concerns coalesced into various movements and "schools" including (but not limited to) the "Organic" school and the "Biodynamic" school. And there were some mavericks whose understanding was so unique, so independent and so non-dogmatic that it did not appeal to true-believing authoritarian mind sets like J.I. Rodale. These remarkable individuals have been largely ignored by the mainstream that controls "alternative" thought today.
    The purpose of the Holistic Agriculture Library is to bring all these thinkers together into one place and to preserve this wisdom.
    These wisdoms still have not been applied.

Further Essential Reading

An Annotated Bibliography of Readings
In the Intellectual History of Radical Agriculture
    This bibliography, coupled with those titles made available above, constitutes a curricula for an advanced degree in the "intellectual history of radical agriculture." Anyone who studied all these titles and followed their bibliographies back as far as seemed interesting could honestly award themselves a Ph.D. in the subject.
    The reader is welcome to make other suggestions or comments for addition. Where any of these titles are available in print, the bibliography may tell you or directly link you to a source for purchase. Otherwise I recommend establishing a good relationship with your interlibrary-loan librarian and also visiting Amazon or ABEBOKS whose admirable website is this planet's best source of used books.

    It is the policy of the Soil and Health Library to not reproduce any book that is in print and not public domain. Doing this would also violate U.S. copyright law. Additionally, there are numerous out of print books whose copyrights are held by jealous and powerful interests who would not grant permission for offering an online free edition in a public library and additionally would sue and harrass anyone who put them online. For this reason I cannot offer many of the titles that are essential to fully understanding the relationship between agricultural systems and the consequent health of animals and people. However, these are listed in this Annotated Bibliography.

Find An Agricultural Dictionary
Online. There are MANY serious, scholarly and some lovely light-hearted compilations of definitions and agricultural or animal husbandry techniques derived from interesting agri-source books connected with the intellectual as well as practical hands-on techniques of historical agriculturalists. (FARMERS!) Best book I ever read "LOST COUNTRY LIFE" by Dorothy Hartley. Google it. Find it used at amazon, you will be floored. A total delight. ANY FARMER would thank you forever for this gift.


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