FARMERS OF FORTY CENTURIES: or, permanent agriculture in China, Korea and Japan

King, F. H.

Original publication date: 1911
Original publisher: Madison, Wisconsin: Mrs F. H. King
Publication status: Public domain

Many photographs. Downloads in two parts.

If nothing else this is one of the greatest travel books of all time. Sir Albert Howard said F.H. King was “one of the most brilliant of the agricultural investigators of the last generation”, and that King’s book Farmers of Forty Centuries“should be prescribed as a textbook in every agricultural school and college in the world”. King’s remarkable account of his agricultural investigations in China, Korea and Japan in 1909 was an often-quoted source of inspiration for Howard in his 26 years as an agricultural investigator in India. King was Professor of Agricultural Physics at the University of Wisconsin until 1901, and then Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Division of Soil Management until he retired in 1904. He was a pioneer in the development of soil physics, which found the purely chemical approach wanting: simply providing chemical nutrients did not solve the problems of crop production. “The soil is a scene of life,” King wrote, “where altered sunshine maintains an endless cycle of changes, rather than a mere chemical and mechanical mixture.” King died in 1911, before he could finish Farmers of Forty Centuries, which is missing its last chapter, “Message of China and Japan to the World”. However, three years later his widow, Mrs. C.B. King, published more of King’s work in the book Soil Management, with the final chapter “Agriculture of Three Ancient Nations”, which Mrs King had assembled from 10 of King’s lectures and papers, along with much further information on the practices of the Orient in the rest of the book.

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