THE FATHER OF FERTILISER
Likely you have never heard the name Justus von Liebig, in
fact it was only in the beginning weeks of 2008 that this
name was mentioned to me. Here is what Wikipedia, the free
encyclopaedia has to say:
(Reference at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justus_von_Liebig
Justus von Liebig (May 12, 1803 April 18, 1873) was
a German chemist who made major contributions to agricultural
and biological chemistry, and worked on the organization of
organic chemistry. As a professor, he devised the modern laboratory-oriented
teaching method, and for such innovations, he is regarded
as one of the greatest chemistry teachers of all time. He
is known as the "father of the fertilizer industry"
for his discovery of nitrogen as an essential plant nutrient,
and his formulation of the Law of the Minimum which described
the effect of individual nutrients on crops. He also developed
a manufacturing process for beef extract, and founded a company,
Liebig Extract of Meat Company, that later trademarked the
Oxo brand beef bouillon cube.
One of his most recognized and far-reaching accomplishments
was the invention of nitrogen-based fertilizer. Liebig believed
that nitrogen must be supplied to plant roots in the form
Though a practical and commercial failure, his invention of
fertilizer recognized the possibility of substituting chemical
fertilizers for natural (animal dung, etc.) ones. He also
formulated the Law of the Minimum, stating that a plant's
development is limited by the one essential mineral that is
in the relatively shortest supply, visualized as "Liebig's
barrel". This concept is a qualitative version of the
principles used to determine the application of fertilizer
in modern agriculture.
So back in the 1800s this remarkable man worked on establishing
what was to become known as
N P K fertilisers. The ability to bypass the natural way plants
feed by applying chemical elements directly to the root zone.
This was a great turn of events and soon fertiliser companies
were established to produce man made fertilisers. Farmers
and orchardists swapped their old natural ways of growing
for the new chemical way. Plants grew quicker without so much
manual work, fertiliser companies became rich, universities
studied and refined the process. Man had discovered a way
to beat nature and bend the creators work to his will.
But here is a little secret that the fertiliser companies
and their consultants don't want you to know:
Later in life, Justus Von Liebig came to the realisation that
his work with NPK fertilisers was incorrect.
In 1855, Justus Von Liebig wrote:
"Unfortunately the true beauty of agriculture with its
intellectual and animating principles is almost unrecognized.
The art of agriculture will be lost when ignorant, unscientific
and short sighted teachers persuade the farmer to put all
his hopes in universal remedies, which don't exist in nature.
Following their advice, bedazzled by an ephemeral success,
the farmer will forget the soil and lose sight of his inherent
values and their influence."
So here is the famous admission from Liebig--- that he had
spent his professional life with a lying basis---- that has
been the false foundation of practically all the university
type researches (catering to the chemical companies) that
so fondly embrace the lies about ion absorption by plant roots:
Justus Von Liebig wrote in 1855; "I had sinned against
the wisdom of our creator, and received just punishment for
it. I wanted to improve his handiwork, and in my blindness,
I believed that in this wonderful chain of laws, which ties
life to the surface of the earth and always keeps it rejuvenated,
there might be a link missing that had to be replaced by me--this
weak, powerless nothing.
The law, to which my research on the topsoil led me, states,
'On the outer crust of the earth, under the influence of the
sun, organic life shall develop. and so, the great master
and builder gave the fragments of the earth the ability to
attract and hold all these elements necessary to feed plants
and further serve animals, like a magnet attracts and holds
iron particles, so as no piece be lost. Our master enclosed
a second law unto this one, through which the plant bearing
earth becomes an enormous cleansing apparatus for the water.
Through this particular ability, the earth removes from the
water all substances harmful to humans and animals--all products
of decay and putrefaction, of perished plant and animal generations.
The opinion, that plants draw their food from a solution that
is formed in the soil through rainwater, was everyone's belief.
It was engraved into my mind. This opinion was wrong and the
source of my foolish behaviour.
After I learned the reason why my fertilizers weren't effective
in the proper way, I was like a person
that received a new life. For along with that, all processes
of tillage were now explained as to their natural laws. Now
that this principle is known and clear to all eyes, the only
thing that remains is the astonishment of why it hadn't been
discovered a long time ago. The human spirit, however, is
a strange thing. Whatever doesn't fit into the given circle
of thinking; doesn't exist."
Well there you have it gardeners, from the horses mouth so
to speak, the father of fertilisers came to realise his system
was not sustainable, it destroyed the natural order of things,
killed the soil life, made for unhealthy plants, animals and
us at the end of the food chain. It took nature millions of
years to create the biology of soil/plant relationship and
it only took us a fraction of that time to destroy it.
Once when a cow pooped on a paddock it was considered an asset.
The soil life converted the poo to food to fed the grasses
and to re-feed the cow. Now with the soil life gone that poo
is a pollutant and along with nitrates/super phosphate etc
harm our water ways and oceans. (plus our health)
Mind you there is a lot of money to be made out of man made
fertilisers. (who cares about the planet?)
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