In 1943, before the advent of agriculture based on fossil fuels, chemicals and big machinery, Eve Balfour wrote in The Living Soil: “The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible.” Since then, the soils of Britain have been severely depleted, especially where they have been cultivated for annual crops like cereals. Nearly all the organic matter stored in the soil – that precious resource upon which we all depend for food – has been ‘mined’ and converted into ever-increasing crop yields supported by artificial fertilisers. It took from the 1940s to the 1990s for the reasoning ...


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