The Chemistry of Farming - Book Review

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 24 10:51:04 MDT 2001


>Paddy:
>The REAL issue IS just this as briefly explained in that book review.  It is
>ONLY by applying the necessary fertilizer to the soil that crops yields can
>be maintained - Liebig's Principle of the Minimum.

Leibig diagnosed the problem, but it was Marx who came up with a solution:
overcome the division between town and country through socialism. Once the
organic nutrients are reunited with the soil, there will be little use for
chemical fertilizers.

>>It is just not possible to maintain fertility at the levels required to feed
>the present world population without the application of chemically-produced
>nitrogenous fertilizer - not available in suffient quantity and price in so
>much of the world.

Of course. That is because capitalist social and economic relations prevail.

>There MAY be problems on the Mississippi (too far away from me to comemnt) -
>but experience in the UK clearly shows falling nitrogen compounds in rivers,
>and most of the high levels in UK ground water seems to have resulted from
>the extensive ploughing up of meadowland for arable crops during WWII.   The
>whole idea of applying fertilizer is to have it utilised by the crop - not
>wasting it by leaching into water-courses !!!

I doubt that the problems in the USA or any other country heavily involved
with agribusiness will be found in the same intensity in a country like
Great Britain. Much of the USA export economy revolves around single-crop
intensive farming of sugar, corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, etc. These farms
occupy tens of thousands of acres that resist anything short of the kind of
wholesale anti-ecologica technologies that are poisoning the waters and air.

>It is very necessary to listen to those expert in agriculture and
>agricultural chemistry before taking as gospel the rather simplistic views
>propagated by the Greens.....   I have seen a very substantial clean-up of
>the environment during the course of my professional life - and yet the
>noise created by environmentalists (never heard of when I began my career)
>has got louder and louder so that it is becoming impossible to have a
>sensible discussion - as the number of "undisputable" myths increase.

The clean-up is due to the efforts of these Greens, starting with Rachel
Carsons.

Louis Proyect
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