Cultivation of plants for food allowed humans to convert from a nomadic
hunting and gathering lifestyle to a more settled existence.
Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates River in what is now Iraq
shows evidence of very
early civilization. Writings dating to 2500 B.C. mention fertility of the
land. Fertility was due to annual flooding of the land and a system of
canals were built for irrigation of crops.
C. On uplands shifting agriculture was
necessary "slash and burn"
D. Golden Age of Greeks 800-200 BC
1. Manure increased productivity and
prolonged land use
2. Green manure crops, especially
legumes, enriched the soil
3. Marl increased productivity (liming)
4. Wood ashes were beneficial
5. Saltpeter (KNO3) was
beneficial to plants
6. Saline soils could be detected by
First 18 centuries A.D.
1. Pietro de Crescenzi
(Roman). 1233-1320. Published a book on agricultural practices
.Jan Baptista Van
Helmont (1577-1644) His willow tree experiment
"proved" that water was the sole nutrient of plants.
"But I have learned by this handicraft-operation
that all Vegetables do immediately, and materially proceed out of the
Element of water onely .For I took an Earthen
vessel, in which I put 200 pounds of Earth that had been dried in a
Furnace, which I moystened with Rainwater, and I
implanted therein the Trunk or Stem of a Willow Tree, weighing five pounds;
and atlength, five years being finished, the Tree
sprung from thence, did weigh169 pounds, and about three ounces: But I moystened the Earthen Vessel with Rain-water, or
distilled water (alwayes when there was need) and
it was large, and implanted into the Earth, and least the dust that flew
about should be co-mingled with the Earth, I covered the lip or mouth of theVessel with an Iron-Plate covered with Tin, and easily
passable with many holes. I computed not the weight of the leaves that fell
off in the four Autumnes. At length, I again
dried the Earth of the Vessell, and there were
found the same two hundred pounds, wanting about two ounces. Therefore164
pounds of Wood, Barks, and Roots, arose out of water onely."
200 lbs. of soil, 5 lb
added rain or distilled water
5 years of growth
169 lb 3 oz tree
but 2 oz of soil was accounted for, which he
assumed was experimental error, so he concluded that water was the source
of plant nutrition.
Tull(1674-1741) - Thought small particles
were ingested by plants, and that cultivating the soil made it easier for
plants to take up soil
the Book - "Horse Hoeing Husbandry" and developed the horse
hoe and the seed
Modern Period (1800-1900)
Justus Von Liebig (1803-1873) Laid the foundation for the modern fertilizer
Stressed the value of mineral elements from the soil
Found that carbon in plants comes from CO2 of the atmosphere not
from humus in the soil as was thought at the time
Hydrogen and oxygen come from water
The alkaline metals (Ca, Mg and K) were needed to neutralize acids formed
Phosphates are necessary for seed formation
He manufactured fertilizer but made the mistake of fusing P and K with lime
(unavailable to plants)
Law of the Minimum - If one of the essential nutrients is deficient,
growth will be poor even if all other elements are abundant. Liebig's
Liebigs contribution to philosophy was important
Perfect agriculture is the true foundation of all
trade and industry -- It is the foundation of the riches of nations. But a
rational system of agriculture cannot be formed without the application of
scientific principles for such a system must be based on an exact
acquaintance with the means of vegetable nutrition. The knowledge we must
seek through chemistry.
Development of Soil Fertility in the U.S.
1733 James E.
Oglethorpe - Experimental
garden on bluffs of Savannah River in Georgia to produce exotic food
Franklin - Had an interest in agriculture and
demonstrated the value of gypsum.
Applied to hill in a pattern which outlined the words "This land has
been plastered" Quotes
3. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Founding father and agronomist . Quotes
related to agriculture.
3. Edmund Ruffin in
Virginia from 1825-1845 one of the first to use lime on humid region soils
1862 Department of
Act (1862) - provided for state colleges of agriculture and mechanic
The benefit of this act, to the endowment, support, and
maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be,
without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including
military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to
agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of
the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and
practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and
professions in life.
first ag experiment station 1875
N. C. Ag
Experiment Station established
State University , General
History In 1887 the state legislature established the North
Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now NC State) as the
state's land-grant institution.