[permaculture] Sir Albert Howard's "An Agricultural Testament"

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Mon Jun 15 02:44:20 EDT 2015


>From vic at daena.eepo.com.auMon Jan 13 20:47:58 1997
Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 11:30:33 WST
From: Victor Guest <vic at daena.eepo.com.au>
Reply to: PERMA at eepo.com.au
To: Permaculture WA <perma at eepo.com.au>
Subject: (Fwd) Agricultural Testament (fwd)

From: "Jeff Goebel" <goebel at mail.wsu.edu>

Nice post.

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Tue, 24 Dec 1996 21:21:31 -0600
To:            sanet-mg at amani.ces.ncsu.edu
From:          William Vorley <wtvorley at iastate.edu>
Subject:       Agricultural Testament

Dear Sanneters,

Some of you will be much more familiar with the work of Sir Albert Howard
than me. But I was going through his 1940 book 'An Agricultural
Testament'and found a perspective to the question posed by Willie Lockeretz.
It seems to point out the fork in the road leading to either linear or to
systemic/holistic approaches to pest control, long before Bt corn,
Roundup ready soybeans, systems-speak and computer modelling,and even before the
widespread use of DDT in agriculture.

'An Agricultural Testament' is based on forty years of field experience
and observations in England, the West Indies and especially India. Howard
wondered why peasant crops were so free of pests, and between 1905 and
1910 he set out to acquire the traditional knowledge, with the local farmers
of Pusa, India and the `insects and fungi' as his instructors. After 30 more
years of refining his ideas, he concluded:
"Insects and diseases are not the real cause of plant diseases but only
attack unsuitable varieties or crops imperfectly grown. Their true role
is that of censors for pointing out the crops that are improperly nourished
and so keeping our agriculture up to the mark. In other words, the pests
must be looked upon as nature's professors of agriculture: as an integral
portion of any rational system of farming."
"The policy of protecting crops from pests by means of sprays, powders,
and so forth is unscientific and unsound as, even when successful, such
procedure merely preserves the unfit and obscures the real problem-how to
grow healthy crops."
Agricultural research has been an expensive failure. "The cause of this
failure is not far to seek. The investigations have been undertaken by
 specialists. The problems of disease have not been studied as a whole,
but have been divorced from practice, split up, departmentalised and
confined to the experts most conversant with the particular fragment of
science which deals with some organism associated with the disease. This
specialist approach is bound to fail.
This is obvious when we consider: (1) the real problem-how to grow healthy
crops and how to raise healthy animals, and (2)the nature of the disease,
which includes the soil in its relation to the plant and the animal."

Season's greetings,
William T. Vorley
Visiting Scientist
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, 209 Curtiss Hall, Iowa State
University, Ames, IA 50011-1050 USA
Tel. (515) 2947853 or 2929302  Fax (515)2949696  wtvorley at iastate.edu

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