Question for you today - if you read my blogs regularly, have you ever noticed that anytime I write about anything pertaining to agriculture, it rarely has to do with seeds, but rather almost always has to do with soil? Have you noticed that? There's a reason for that. It's because the health of the soil is what matters for the long term. If you make a bad seed choice, its effects can most likely be rectified the next year, by making a better seed choice. But, making a bad tillage choice, which is all about the soil, can negatively impact the wider environment for years to come.
On July 5,1943, agronomist Edward Faulkner published a book entitled Plowman's Folly. In it Faulkner made this controversial statement: “no one has ever advanced a scientific reason for plowing." Faulkner's book has been recognized as the most important challenge to agricultural orthodoxy in the 20th century. His philosophy of the soil, based on proven principles and completely opposed to age-old concepts, has had a strong impact upon theories of cultivation around the world. When his book was first published, it shocked people because the notion of soil depletion had basically been accepted as merely an unavoidable result of farming. But, that one simple sentence turned the world on its head and Faulkner opened a new era.
For generations, most farmers attempted to manage their operations through the use of the moldboard plow. The following statement was made in regards to Faulkner's studies: "Mr. Faulkner proved rather conclusively that soil impoverishment, erosion, decreasing crop yields, and many of the adverse effects following droughts or periods of excessive rainfall could be traced directly to the practice of plowing natural fertilizers deep into the soil. Through his own test-plot and field-scale experiments, in which he prepared the soil with a disk harrow, in emulation of nature’s way on the forest floor and in the natural meadow, by incorporating green manures into its surface, he transformed ordinary, even inferior, soils into extremely productive, high-yield croplands." Time magazine called his concept “one of the most revolutionary ideas in agriculture history.”
The book is making a comeback as the world searches for ways in which to best care for and steward the land into the future. Maybe you want to put it on your summer reading list! Plowman's Folly by Edward Faulkner.
Have a great day!