Pay Dirt by J. I. Rodale


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This is a high-quality facsimile reprint of the 1948 edition of “Pay Dirt”:

“A revolution in farming and gardening is in progress all over the world,” says Sir Albert Howard, noted English authority on agriculture, in his introduction to this book. “If I were asked to sum up in a few words the basis of this movement and the general results that are being obtained, I should reply that a fertile soil is the formulation of healthy crops, healthy live stock, and last but not least, healthy human beings. By a fertile soil is meant one to which Nature’s law of return has been faithfully applied, so that it contains an adequate amount of freshly prepared humus made in the form of compost from both vegetable and animal wastes.”

Compost – what has that got to do with me? I’m getting results with artificial fertilizers. But are you?

Is your land getting better, every year — or do you have to use more chemical fertilizers each season, and more sprays to keep more pests down? Does your land become more lumpy and cement-like?

Are your crops, animals and fowls flourishing in good health, or are they subject to every blight and disease known to you, and some that are mysteries?

Perhaps you are an exception — but the Department of Agriculture made a careful study of the cultivated soils of the U.S., and in 1938, reported that no less than 253,000,000 acres, or 61 per cent of the total area under crops, had been completely or partially destroyed, or had lost most of its fertility. This has arisen from the misuse of the land. Our bad farming practices in the last fifty years have destroyed more land, faster, than in the whole previous history of mankind!

And what of the food we eat? “America has more hospitals, is served by more physicians per capita, eats more vitamins, uses more synthetic drugs, has the finest medical scientists…and yet more than 40% of the Nation’s potentially military manpower has been rejected for physical unfitness.”

Perhaps there is a connection between the deplorable health index of public health and the way we grow our food. As Dr. Alexis Carrel has put it in Man the Unknown: “Chemical fertilizers, by increasing the abundance of the crops without replacing all the exhausted elements of the soil. have indirectly contributed to change the nutritive value of cereal grains and of vegetables. Hens have been compelled by artificial diet and mode of living, to enter the ranks of the mass producers. Has not the quality of their eggs been modified? The same question may be asked about milk, because cows…are fed on manufactured provender. Hygienists have not paid sufficient attention to the genesis of disease.”

Animal diseases are on the increase. Clearly, a great deal is wrong with the way we grow our crops.

In Pay Dirt, J.I. Rodale tells us what is wrong, and why, from his own experience, and that of a great many of the world’s leading farm experts, horticulturists and soil biologists — and how organic farming and gardening change the picture. Compost, you may not know, has displaced, in the last few years, the use of chemical fertilizer, entirely on many of the largest tea plantations in India and Ceylon, on the great ranches of South Africa, and in the large coffee plantations of Central America, as well as on hundreds of thousands of small farms and gardens in many countries of the world.

Pay Dirt is the first book devoted completely to this way of farming and gardening to be written and published in the United States.


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