I. Nature's Soil Pattern for Animal Nutrition and Health.

    "All flesh is grass," were the words by which a prophetic pre-Christian scholar revealed his vision of how the soil, by growing the crops, can serve in creating animals and man. It duplicates to a fairly good degree any concepts we have even now of the many natural performances in the assembly line which starts with the soil to give what we call agricultural production. We know that the soil grows grass; that the grass feeds our livestock; and that these animals, in turn as meats, are our choice protein foods. Along the same thought line we may well consider the geological, the chemical, the biochemical and the biological performances by which the numerous streams of life take off from the soil and continue to flow through the many healthy species of plants and animals. We can, therefore, connect our soil with our health via nutrition. Since only the soil fertility, or that part of the soil made up of the elements essential for life, enters into the nutrition by which we are fed, we may well speak of animal health as premised on the soil fertility.

    That the health pattern of animals should be a result of the pattern of soil fertility is the suggestion from authors also of the Roman and early Christian era reporting their awareness of the fact that plants are no better than the soils on which they grow, and animals are no healthier than the plants which nourish them. Not quite so long ago in Great Britain, Izaak Walton, in his "The Compleat Angler," pointed out that the soil fertility is a factor in determining the quality of sheep wool, and in the tastiness of the trout. "And so I shall proceed to tell you," (Walton, Izaak. The Compleat Angler. p. 109. Everyman's Library. J. M. Dent & Co. London) he says, "it is certain that certain fields in Leominster, a town in Herefordshire, are observed to make sheep that graze upon them more fat than the next, and also to bear finer wool; that is to say, that in that year in which they feed in a particular pasture, they shall yield finer wool than they did that year before they came to feed upon it, and coarser again if they shall return to their former pasture; and again return to a finer wool, being fed on the finer wool ground. Which I tell you that you may better believe that I am certain, if I catch a trout in one meadow he shall be white and faint, and very likely be lousy; and as certainly as if I catch a trout in the next meadow, he shall be strong and red and lusty and much better meat; trust me, scholar, I have caught many a trout in a particular meadow, that the very shape and enameled color of him was made such as hath joyed me to look on him; and I have then with much pleasure concluded with Solomon, 'Everything is beautiful in its season!'"

    In that observation of 300 years ago, Izaak Walton saw (more clearly than in just a vision) the differences in the health, in the wool, in the quality of fiber, in the sheen of the body color, in the quality of the muscle meat, and even in the presence or the absence of insect infestations of the beast and the fish in the fields and streams, all related to the fertility of the soil. Hence our discussions to follow, as parts in the broader subject of "Soil Fertility and Animal Health," are in reality an old and long familiar theme to the keenly observing naturalists, even though to us as scientists it may seem still new, strange and not entirely proved.


Figure 1--Beef production, growing our choice proteins, locates itself where annual rainfall has left us mineral-rich, wind-mixed soils that grow protein-rich grasses of high nutritional values.

Diseases As Deficiencies and Degeneration Of The Body

    There are increasing reports that animal afflictions are coming to be viewed as sins of omission, more than that our livestock is falling prey to some stealthy force, (possibly microbes). There is a growing interest in the relationship between their nutrition and their diseases. It is obvious that if an animal is deprived of some essential body constituent, troubles in its health will be encountered. One may look for that trouble primarily in the direction in which the particular constituent functions. For instance, if a young animal is starved for protein, i.e. the flesh-forming constituent, the result will be (a) retarded growth replaced possibly by only a fattening; (b) a failure to protect against invasion and digestion by foreign proteins (microbes, viruses, etc.), and (c) a lack of fecund reproduction, which three functions the proteins alone can carry out. But as yet the functions of many compounds are still unknown, and the failing functions as reasons for the disturbed health are too often unrecognized.


Figure II--Pork production locates itself where high rainfall has left so little fertility in the soil that carbohydrate-producing, or fattening, crops predominate.

    The supplies of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, have received attention as to their quantities considered necessary for nutrition, but their qualities are not fully tabulated. For the carbohydrates, the latter is not so serious since as energy sources, or body fuels, they in their variety seem safely interchangeable. The fats in an extensive array, also as energy foods, seem to have only three specifically considered to date as indispensable. But for the proteins, too long considered in the group as a whole under this term, must now be viewed as to their quality by which they provide eight or ten specific amino acids as parts of the proteins molecule. These are considered the indispensables among: nearly two dozen of them by which in total their functions are not fully understood.


Figure III--Nature placed the virgin grasses in the Mid-continent, and our livestock like the grass is balanced along the 98th Meridian of longitude, West.

    Only recently, however, as a relatively new phase of the science of animal nutrition, has concern arisen about the supplies of the inorganic constituents of the animal body. When it has been reported that animals deprived as completely as possible of the mineral elements in their food died sooner than animals deprived of food altogether (Dairy Goat Journal. July, 1955.) we can see the significance of the growing knowledge of the functions in nutrition of the inorganic elements. These include the "trace" elements as the central cores of the organic enzymes, by which many of the biochemical reactions of the body are propagated. We are recognizing the importance of the balance of the inorganic or "ash" elements more recently. Thereby, we are coming to see, via their source, the importance of the soil for the nutrition of microbes, plants, animals and man. It is the soil, then, that is the foundation of that entire biotic pyramid, and may well be studied in relation to health now that the knowledge of soil is organizing itself into one of the newer and none-the-less significant sciences. As such, soil science may well assume its responsibilities regarding possible contributions to better health for that purpose.


Figure IV--The highest concentration of land in farms, like the virgin grass and livestock today, also is balanced along the 98th Meridian of longitude, West.

Look To Mother Nature First

    In dealing with this subject of the significance of the fertility of the soil as it feeds (or fails to feed) our animals into good health, we can use two methods of approach, either (a) the inductive or (b) the deductive one. In the former, i. e. the inductive method, we would first try and learn how each element or factor in soil fertility renders nutritional services to the plant and through that, in turn, to the animal under experiment. Then from that collection of data and experience we would piece together and tell the final story about managing soils to feed the animals so well that they would be healthy. In the latter, the deductive method, we would use what may be considered the ecological approach In this, by studying Nature's pattern of animal placement in its different areas, or on soils of different fertility levels according to the ecological pattern, we would learn the soil fertility differences representing causes, via the crops, of animal presence and animal absence according to the natural processes of evolution of them.


Figure V--The "excellent" and "good" conductivity of the soil for corresponding radio reception in the United Slates, like the virgin grass and our livestock, also balance along the 98th Meridian of longitude, West.

    These maps surest that (a) the grass. (b) the concentration of farms, and (c) the radio efficiency are not causing each other. Rather the soil fertility, with its electrodynamics resulting from rock weathering, is the common cause in a very specific pattern of control.

    This latter is a qualitative attack on the problem of growing healthy animals, not a quantitative one. It notes the presence of or absence of health, or the prevalence of certain tabulated ailments. We may well begin our study of animal health in relation to the soil fertility and our management of the soil for that objective by using mainly the deductive or the ecological method. We may well observe and investigate Nature's pattern. Then, by both ecological deductions and experimental inductions, we may find reasons for Her locating certain animals on some soils and not on others. Therefrom we might possibly deduce the roles played by different soil fertility elements in building protein, for example, in plant nutrition, and thereby putting that into animal nutrition. We might thereby learn more about why "All flesh is grass."

    As a basic premise from which to reason, or to attack the problem of growing healthy animals by judicious management of the soil under the forages feeding them, we shall accept the American bison's presence in great herds upon the Plains as evidence of good fertility in the soil there for healthy animals. We shall consider it as good fertility for growing the virgin forages of the chemical composition representing nutrition for good animal health. It avoids the distorted view of nutrition which is so often serving mainly in a fattening process, and even then of a castrated male with a much shortened life span which is demonstrating little of a nutrition for the procreation and survival of his species.

    By selecting within the larger soil pattern, as the starting point and guide, this particular section which was of sufficient fertility to guarantee the survival of the bison, one is immediately impressed with the limited grass areas which made the buffalo flesh. Or conversely, one is disturbed by the large land areas of virgin soils of fertility levels too low, or too deficient in at least one or two respects, for survival of this quadruped, which is not widely different from the cow. We should also be impressed by the applicability of these ecological facts to the nutrition and health of our cattle herds and other livestock when the bison nourished on those soils was duplicating, in many details, their physiological complexities. These include the physiological processes (a) of body growth, (b) of protection against disease, and (c) of reproduction in sufficient fecundity for survival of the species without the help (or hindrance) of man and his modern, economic and technological agriculture. When the soil area suited for raising the bison was so limited, or rather when so much of the country could not support the buffalo, should we not expect to have health troubles with our animals when we put them on soils outside the virgin grass area inhabited by the buffalo? Should we not anticipate more of those troubles with increased years during which those soils have been mined of their fertility?

    Let us then examine the concept that the grass crop was the guarantee of the survival of the bison. We may well also look with question into the belief that a grass agriculture any where else in the country should be good nutrition and good health for cattle, when they, like the bison, are ruminants and meat- makers too. Let us look at the areas of our own country as the livestock practices are meeting up with more diseases, or less of them, to suggest (a) that the different climatic settings have made different soils from the original rocks or parent soil materials; (b) that some climatic force, like wind, has been blowing in some new minerals to keep the soil reserves renewed for protein production; and (c) that the soil rather than the particular crop species per se has been the factor determining the health of the animals. Perhaps an examination of the soil as it has been developed under the varied climatic forces to feed, or to fail, our protein-producing crops will not only give pattern to the soils of the United States, but will also be the pattern for the production of our cattle and other kinds of livestock in better health.

The Mid-Continent Stands Out

    One needs only to look at the maps of the states drawn to the sizes they represent in the amounts of beef they produce and in the amounts of pork, our two major meats, to see that it is the mid-continent of the United States where the soils are growing the feeds by which these animals are produced. The growth of the beef (Figure l-I) which represents a higher percentage of protein in the carcass, is in the western Mid-continent. It duplicates the areas of the bison. The production of the pork (Figure 2-I ) is located in a part of the Mid-continent extending itself eastward over Iowa, Northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. These areas balance well to the east and to the west along the 98th meridian of longitude as the Mid-continental line from North to South.

    If we are given to the belief that "AII flesh is grass"), then the readiness with which the maps of beef and pork superimpose themselves so accurately on the area of the virgin grasses (Figure 3-I) would tempt one to believe that the grass causes the ecological and climatic setting for the livestock. We have long considered cattle and grass a "natural" combination in the mid-western area where the grass is still "natural", and where the virgin grasslands and the bison were a "natural" combination too. There the cattle raise themselves. There they are "naturally" fed and are "naturally" healthy. Hogs, however, might seem ill-placed on the grass map were one not reminded that corn too is one of the grasses It grows now where the massive amounts of big bluestem covered the prairies. Hogs, then, occupy the eastern projection of the grasslands, or that extended point of the Mid-continent.

    It is a significant coincidence that the combined two maps of beef and pork productions cover the same area represented also by the portion of the United States with the highest concentration of farms on the land area (Figures 4-I). We might be tempted to believe that the original grasslands were reason for the productivity making much soil tillage or farming and thereby much livestock possible, or vice versa. These combinations of maps center the attention on the Mid-continent as the area where agriculture in terms of protein production is at a high level and correlated with grass, many farms, and much livestock.

Correlations Are Not Necessarily Causes

    It is significant that the maps of beef and pork superimpose themselves also accurately on the map of highly efficient conductivity of electricity by the soil, especially with the combined areas of "excellent" and "good" radio reception as mapped by the National Broadcasting Company (Figure 5-I). While in the preceding correlations we might mistake the grass as reason for many cattle, and they in turn as reason for many farms, none of these can be mistaken as reason for the excellent and good radio reception, or the high conductivity by the soil.

    Quite the reverse, the soil conditions representing "excellent" and "good" conductivity correlated with grass, cattle and concentration of farming may properly be considered as the cause within the correlation The former one is the cause of the latter three. The three, namely grass, livestock and concentration of farms are related because they have a common cause, namely the electro-chemodynamic conditions of the soil which are exhibited in the radio and also in the production of the protein-producing crops serving in the nutrition of animals and man

    These soil conditions include chemically active and thereby electrically active salts in the soil for the conduction of electricity when the soil is one arm of the radio circuit while the air with its electrical waves is the other. Those conditions include also moisture, since dry salts are neither ionized nor chemically active in electrical conduction. Those are the same soil conditions required for plant nutrition when the salts include those of calcium as the major portion of the mixture, supplemented by those of magnesium, potassium and others.

    They are the conditions including and emphasizing water. Thus, with the higher rainfall in the Eastern and Southeastern States where the soil fertility elements have been leached out, there is ample water but not enough of the fertility salts for either good radio reception or for production of protein-rich crops. There the virgin pine trees are the extreme of low- protein crops. In the more arid West, the alkaline salts are ample but the moisture is deficient for the electro-dynamic behaviors by which either good radio reception or significant protein production by crops may be possible. It is in the salts of soil fertility and the soil moisture as the result of the balance of the climatic forces for this particular degree of soil development, that we find the cause (a) of the radio reception, (b) of the natural grasses, (c) of the high concentration of farms and (d) of the possibility of creating the healthy life forms in our livestock and also of man. Underneath all these are the fertility dynamics of the soil. Without these arranged in Nature's pattern we cannot expect to grow healthy cows.