In 1909, American agronomist F.H. King toured China, Korea and Japan for nine months, studying traditional fertilization, tillage and general farming practices. He wrote his observations and findings in Farmers of Forty Centuries, Or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan (1911, published shortly after his death by his wife, Carrie Baker King).[1] King lived in an era preceding synthetic nitrogen fertilizer production and before the use of the internal combustion engine for farm machinery, yet he was profoundly interested in the challenge of farming the same soils in a 'permanent' manner, hence his interest in the agricultural practices of ancient cultures.

King's book has been influential on sustainable agriculture in the century since its publication.[1] Lord Northbourne, an early advocate of organic agriculture, described it as a "classic" which "no student of farming or social science can afford to ignore".[2] It is also one of the main works referenced in the early permaculture works by David Holmgren and Bill Mollison, and likely helped inspire the term "permaculture" itself.

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References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Paull, John (2011). The making of an agricultural classic: Farmers of Forty Centuries or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan, 1911-2011. Agricultural Sciences 2 (3): 175–180
  2. Northbourne, L., 1940, Look to the land, J. M. Dent, London, p. 17, p. 55, apud Paull, John, "Permanent Agriculture: Precursor to Organic Farming", Elementals: Journal of Bio-Dynamics Tasmania, no.83, pp. 19–21, 2006.

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