How to Build Up Worn Out Soils
Source of Digital Item
The ancient Egyptian knew that if he let his land lie idle, (rested) as he termed it, he was able to produce a much better crop, and that crop would be in quantity and quality, all other things being equal, proportionate to the length of time this land had been rested.
At a later period the fertilizing value of legumes (pod bearing) plants was recognized, but as the population of the world increased and civilization advanced, it became imperative that all farming operations should become more intensive and less extensive.
Each decade saw the progressive farmer slowly but surely moving on his journey of progress, correcting many mistakes of the past.
He then began to see that it was quite possible and practicable to keep his ground covered with some crop, and the soil become richer and more productive every year, by reason of this constant tillage — than was possible under the old and extravagant method of letting the land lie out idle for a few years.
“As science shed light upon his art,” he learned that chemical analysis of the soil, alone (though skillfully done) did not accurately determine the crop-yielding capacity of the soil, and that the greatest good would result only when such analyses were followed by carefully conducted field experiments. From these he learns further that the crop-yielding power is increased by rotating or changing his crop every year, or every few years upon land not occupied by such crop the year previous.
For eight years the Tuskegee station has made the subject of soil improvement a special study, emphasizing the subject of crop rotation, deep plowing, terracing, fertilizing, etc., keeping in mind the poor tenant farmer with a one-horse equipment; so therefore, every operation performed has been within his reach, the station having only one horse.