history soil fertility

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I shared this presentation with my Soil Fertility class the first week of class in Fall 2012


  • 1. Welcome to Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition AGRN 378
  • 2. Did the ancient Egyptians knowanything about soil fertility?
  • 3. Ancient Egyptian murals show lots of agricultural practices - tillage, planting,irrigation and harvesting but no fertilization
  • 4. 4-5 million people during the New Kingdom Why did Greek historian Herodotus write Egypt is truly a gift of the Nile?http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/courses/306/Nile%20Delta.jpg http://lexicorient.com/e.o/atlas/maps/nile.gif
  • 5. NileMost of Egypt is desert !
  • 6. High Aswan Dam constructed beginning in 1960 6 TRILLION CFT 1.2TRILLION CFT High Aswan Dam Hoover Dam
  • 7. Each year ~ 120 million tons of sediment accumulatesbehind the dam containing ~ 10,000 tons of biologically available P and N !
  • 8. Mediterranean fisheries collapsed after the construction of the High Aswan Dam Shrimp harvest along Egyptian Coast Sowhy are the fisheries recovering?Nixon, 2003. Replacing the Nile: Are Anthropogenic Nutrients Providing the Fertility Once Brought to theMediterranean by a Great River? Ambio. Volume 32, Issue 1 (February 2003)
  • 9. Sowhy are the fisheries recovering? Shrimp harvest along Egyptian Coast SEWAGE from Cairo Aquatic ecosystems in the Mediterranean are nutrient limited unlike the Gulf of MexicoNixon, 2003. Replacing the Nile: Are Anthropogenic Nutrients Providing the Fertility Once Brought to theMediterranean by a Great River? Ambio. Volume 32, Issue 1 (February 2003)
  • 10. Stercutius Roman art also reveals a lot about their agriculture.In addition to Saturn and Ceres (Roman god and goddess of Agriculture), the Romans had a god of manure named Stercutius who was worshiped by old women and children.
  • 11. A number of Roman authors (e.g., Cato, Columella, Pliny the Elder)wrote detailed textbooks on agriculture that described the use ofanimal manures, green manures and crop rotations to improve soilproductivity. These books were considered important sources ofinformation about agriculture for over a thousand years.
  • 12. Blue lupinesPliny the Elder (AD 23-79) classified animalmanures with respect to their advantagesand disadvantages of most animal manuresand recommended the use of greenmanures. "It is universally agreed by allwriters that there is nothing more beneficialthan to turn up a crop of lupines, before theyhave podded, either with the plough or thefork, or else to cut them and bury them inheaps at the roots of trees and vines."
  • 13. The earliest records of soil improvement using greenmanures are from the Chou dynasty (~1000 BC) inChina. Later (500 BC), Tsi gave the following advice:Green manures are planted in the 5th or 6th month,and plowed under in the 7th or 8th month... Theirfertilizing value is as good as silkworm excrement andwell-rotted farm manure"
  • 14. China has had more than 50 million people for more than 2000 years and currently has more than 300 million farmers!
  • 15. We desired to learn how it ispossible, after twenty andperhaps thirty or even fortycenturies, for their soils to bemade to produce sufficiently forthe maintenance of such densepopulations.. FH King, 1911
  • 16. Fertilizing with night soil
  • 17. Chinampas Agriculture in Central Americahttp://library.thinkquest.org/C006206F/images/images/pint5.jpg
  • 18. http://www.icarito.cl/vgn/images/portal/FOTO042005/221466640lamina-chinampas.jpg
  • 19. Building Chinampas http://kyapa.tripod.com/agengineering/drainage-lowland/veracruzbuildingchinampas.jpg
  • 20. Chinampas in the Momposina lowland region of Columbiahttp://kyapa.tripod.com/agengineering/drainage-lowland/camell-colombia.jpg
  • 21. In 1240, Roman agricultural literature was summarized by Crescentius. http://www.abbeville.com/Products/InteriorImages/0896599191Interiors.htm
  • 22. Bernard Palissy (1510-1589)Ceramicist and hydraulicengineerFar ahead of his time, Palissywrote: Manure is carried to thefield for the purpose of restoringto the latter a part of what hadbeen removed... Proceedingthus you will restore to the soilthe same substances that havebeen removed by previouscrops and which following cropswill regain to their advantage."
  • 23. What is theprinciple ofvegetation? JB van Helmont (1577-1644) Dutch physician and Chemist
  • 24. What isdo What theprinciple of plantsvegetation? eat? JB van Helmont (1577-1644) Dutch physician and Chemist
  • 25. Van Helmonts 169 lbs of plant pot experiment5 lbsofplant only water was added 199 lbs,200 lbs 14oz of soilof soil T=0 T= 5 yrs


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