Method by Which Soil Can Be Kept in Good State of Fertility

May 18, 1907


An advice column for farmers that recommends farmers diversify the crops that they plant.


Method by Which Soil Can Be Kept in Good State of Fertility
Years of experience have taught me that the wise farmer is he who keeps his land up to the highest notch of fertility, if not by one means, then another. There are many different ways to accomplish this, and the plan for each man to follow is the one that gives best results, with material at hand, at least expense.
Here in Southwestern Iowa, writes the correspondent of Farmers’ Voice, it is not necessary to buy fertilizers that are sold in the markets. Most farmers keep at least a few head of stock, and the wise man is he who doubles the number of head of stock and divides his acres of corn. If he will then judiciously and systematically go about building up his land (supposing it has run down), his income would very soon double.
Every man must study his soil, and if he has a knowledge of chemistry so much the better; but for the ordinary farmer, I first recommend seeding down old worn out land to clover, using plenty of seed, and in three or four years plowing the clover under deep and seeding some other part of his farm to the same.
So many farmers have the idea that they must have from 60 to 80 acres of corn, and perhaps not an acre of hay or pasture. The corn will average say 40 bushels, where if they had half the number of acres and made it yield 70 bushels, they would be the gainers; then seed the balance to hay. Timothy, clover and alfalfa bring always a good price, and if the farmer will keep hogs and cattle enough to feed this crop to, put every ounce of manure on the land where it is most needed every year or two, plowing up a new piece and seeding down, there is not the least doubt but that his bank account will double.
Farmers that live on leased land cannot follow this method and move every year, but it is to the interest of both landlord and tenant to stay on the same place as long as possible and also to bring the land up to the highest productiveness.
There is no more simple plan to follow for the average farmer than crop rotation. If we see a field of thin soil with the corn stalks no larger than one’s finger and showing a yield of no more than 20 bushels, you will also find on the same farm manure piled around the barn so high one can find no room for anything else, and one can be sure that farm has never had a load of any kind of fertilizer and the only thing it is sure to have will be a mortgage.
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Upper Right Quadrant

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Benton Camper


“Method by Which Soil Can Be Kept in Good State of Fertility,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed July 17, 2019,