The World Evolves

As elections are one of the only times governments and oppositions take notice of public issues, do you think the potential of Natural Sequence Farming should become an issue.

Over the last years billions of dollars have gone into so called 'fixes' for our problems and now more billions are being poured down possibly another deep hole.

Do you think NSF should be given adequate funds to either prove or disprove it's theories?

Let us know your thoughts here.

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Shirley Henderson
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Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

The World Evolves

Postby Shirley Henderson » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:18 am

I recently received a reply to a letter written to Penny Wong about NSF and visiting a demonstration site. No mention of Peter in the reply.
In my opinion whether exotic plants including those that are labelled as weeds are brought into the country by birds, water or man they would have arrived at some point in time. It is inevitable in a changing world that as we have accepted multiculturalism to be our future so too are the acceptance of all things from around the world. Exotic plants belong here as much as the native plants. Plants are all opportunistic and will grow where the conditions suit them if given the chance to do so. Spraying chemicals and poisoning and polluting our environment are not the solution but it sure does line the pockets of large companies. In the natural world plants as minute as 1mm and less can provide the exact conditions required to germinate a plant that could contain undiscovered properties, cures or the right association for another life form to begin. This minute world is ignored when choosing herbicide as weed control. Plants could be going extinct before they are even discovered and yet the war is waged on weeds without consideration for the greater benefit they bring. As an illness can spread from one person to another antibodies form and unique balances are met.
If you were to believe in God or not, you would admire the creation of all plants, their unique differences and their unique abilities. Nature creates untold surprises and never ending discoveries. Our children have the right to hold onto every growing thing as precious as they are with all their hidden secrets. I doubt that plants labelled as weeds or exotic plants do not have a place in our country. I see how it is a nice concept to restore Australia to the way it was when Europeans settled here but this is not possible due to the large amount of people living here, the animals that have been brought here and the production required from the land to sustain us. Australia would be so much more sustainable if it was not required to produce for the whole world but export is a demanding practise and Australia is being depleted of resources. Understandably the country is degrading and drying out but this is not necessary. Hilltops need to be preserved with plant life and all wetlands and waterways need to be preserved so they can function as the filtration system for our water as meant to be. Areas in between could be farmed but weeds have to be managed not destroyed.
It has been decided long ago that some plants are unwanted therefore they shall not be allowed to live for FEAR that they will take over the whole country. This does NOT happen and it is proven in many bushland sites over and over again. Where bushland is healthy and functioning quite naturally as it should weeds are NOT huge problems. Some weeds that would otherwise take over fully open and degraded areas only just survive in small patches of bushland waiting their opportunity to flourish should their services be required. They open up compacted soil, bring nutrients to the surface when nutrients are too low and provide life giving food sources, water and shade to living creatures. The bush itself forms a balance with these plants as do human bodies with their antibodies against illness and disease. Areas that are taken over by weeds are not healthy and cannot sustain even the native plants that once lived there but the weed coverage is protecting the storage of seed banks ready to emerge once again the conditions are corrected.
My request to meet with Peter Andrews has not been addressed; his name not even mentioned therefore I suggest that any new ideas or suggestions about sustainability are not being allowed in to government for contemplation.
I am going to write again to the government and will continue to do so until I get a reasonable reply that gives consideration to NSF principles instead of pretending “I didn’t mention that!”

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Postby duane » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:23 am

Well put Shirley and Peter has been saying exactly that " weeds have to be managed not destroyed".....NSF has taken a different approach to managing so called weed species.

What is needed is some clear thinking on this whole issue. So called weeds have been given an emotive wrap....where is the torrent of outrage for clear felling our old growth forests, for the dying MDBS, for the 94% of wetlands lost and the 6% that are left headed the same way.

I worked at WeeWaa as a student doing ag, in the late 60's, on a irrigated cotton farm. Cotton was king. Monoculture as far as the eye could see and not another plant in sight.

Organochlories and organophosphates pouring out of the sky like light rain from aircraft. 000's of acres drenched in highly toxic poison. The words of 'Silent Spring' ringing in my ears as the plane passed low over my head.

Shirley Henderson
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun May 06, 2007 4:03 pm
Location: Thirlmere

Weeds used to build fertility

Postby Shirley Henderson » Tue May 05, 2009 8:22 am

I am always interested in the point of view from others and their findings. I have copied and pasted this from a site. The mention about some problems occuring from weeds bringing up some unwanted propertied to the top of the soil is interesting and worth some considertion. I would be interested on Peters comments on those.
No changes have been made to the following.......

TROPO's Organic Info Library

Weed control for organic farms

Weed control tips from Sandy Gilmore, reported by Graeme Eggins

To control weeds successfully you need to use a combination of approaches, according to local grower Sandy Gilmore who passed on some hard-won tips at a TROPO meeting. Sandy, a former Department of Agriculture information officer, has been slowly overcoming weeds on his property at Federal for the past 16 years.

Up to 70% of farm work time for horticulturists can involve activities associated with weed control, Sandy said. "I think that quantity of work can be reduced significantly with appropriate development. The money and energy saved, if put into building soil fertility, is the best long-term means of controlling weeds too."

Clearly what is considered a weed depends on the stage of property development, the land use (eg. kikuyu is a weed to some orchardists but not to graziers) and where you are in the country (Patterson's Curse is considered a weed in central NSW but in central South Australia is considered beneficial).

"I have found that paddocks once dominated by weeds no longer are. I largely attribute that to increased pH (meaning reduced acidity), increased availability of growth-limiting nutrients, maintenance of a dense grassy sward, reduction in the soil weed seed store (so that there is less chance of germination) and species replacement by less troublesome weeds."

Sandy said he felt it unnecessary to spray to control weeds. "If you improve your soil and slash strategically to prevent weed setting seed, other forms of control become unnecessary.

Nonetheless growers needed to consider a lot of variables that affected the type and amount of weeds on their property such as different geology, microclimates and soil moisture. Another complicating factor is the amount of seed available.

Many weed seeds are viable for years. For example, Noogoora burr has germinated when property owners broke up the concrete slabs of old dairies, uncovering burr seed buried 50 years ago. Other weed seeds are spread by birds or blown in from adjacent properties.

Sandy said he had gradually revegetated his property - which didn't have a blade of grass growing when he bought it - at about Iha a year. Each spring he clears off weeds and plants grasses by broadcasting a mix of broadleaf paspalum, setaria and green panic seed. White clover is over seeded the following autumn.

When these are established, he over-sows with kikuyu runners. He said he found that by adding extra lime, rock phosphate and basalt dust the kikuyu will spread and eventually displace the pioneer grasses. He added: "It is interesting to compare the results of seeding in different years, which to a large extent were determined by the degree to which I added liming agents to the soil or by the dryness of the spring as it affected grass germination and survival."

The reason Sandy is so keen on grasses, particularly kikuyu, is because he finds they are one of the best means of building up soil organic matter. "In this area you have 10 tonnes/ha of roots and rhizomes and l0-15 tonnes of above-ground material produced each year. Whilst a large amount of this decomposes without obviously accumulating, it is feeding soil organisms from bacteria to earthworms."

In terms of building up soil organic matter, the more ligneous (woody) stems of setaria provide; in theory, more longer-lived humus than kikuyu. But the horizontal stolons and rhizomes of kikuyu, on the basis of Soil Conservation Service experiences, are 10 times better at preventing surface soil loss compared with tussock grasses.

"Retaining the soil surface layers must be the highest priority for sustainable farmers," Sandy said, "so I am slowly converting to kikuyu and clover since, in our climate, we typically get two or so rainfall events with saturated soil generating massive overland flow. On anything other than flat ground or the densest swards of rhizomatous plants, this can remove hundreds of tonnes of top soil per hectare overnight."

Sandy said the accumulated affects of climate had an important bearing on soil formation and nutrient loss. The chocolate basalt soils west of Lismore formed in a climate where evaporation balanced rainfall and not many cations leached. But the red soils east of Lismore formed when precipitation exceeded evaporation. The extra stream flow over 20 million years removed many more nutrients and much more topsoil.

What appears to be a generally applicable rule is that crop plants and weeds can grow in soils of a fertility better than their lower limits for tolerance. Generally those species best adapted (often most productive) will dominate and out-compete those adapted to poorer fertility sites.

"This means you can't look at the presence of one or a few species to indicate soil conditions - you need to look at the abundance of all species. For example, a few clumps of lantana and Crofton weed in a paddock of kikuyu is not the same as a paddock covered in lantana and Crofton weed and from which the kikuyu has died out."

Sandy said many Australian organic growers had read in the early literature of organic and biodynamic authorities in Europe and North America that particular weeds indicated or improved soil fertility.

"But in the light of the history of glaciation and soil renewal in cold temperate climates, and the fact that they often deal with soils where the cations actually increase with depth, in contrast to most Australian and tropical climate soils, some of their comments about particular weeds bringing nutrients to the surface need to be treated with great caution."

"It has become clear to me that much of the agricultural and horticultural literature from Taiwan, India and South Africa is much more applicable to Australia in general and subtropical farming in particular."

Sandy encourages local growers to delve into the SE Asian literature, most of which is written in English. He quoted research which showed that many of the aromatic weeds like Crofton weed, farmers' friends, stinking roger and blue goat weed contain chemicals that can reduce the growth of crop plants.

He also said he hoped more people would take an interest in local flora, and suggested that farmers keep records of the abundance and species of weeds in each paddock each year so that they can monitor changes and add to local knowledge.

Sandy's comments on some local weed species
Blackberry nightshade(Solanum nigrum): Some references say the berries are toxic, others that they are edible. People seem to be affected differently.

Blue goat weed (Ageratum houstonianum): In a pasture, blue goat weed indicates intermediate fertility. A lot of people don't like it but Sandy finds that as the grasses increase it just gets out-competed.

Carpet grass (Axononopus affinis): Not a real problem. It reflects reduced soil fertility.

Crofton weed and mistflower (Agerarina adenophora and Airiparia): A sign of acid, rundown conditions. Can be out-competed.

Crowsfoot grass (Eleusine indica): Tends to grow in the hot dry months before the wet season on bare, compacted earth.

Docks (Polyogonum spp): Tend to colonise as soil pH increases, appearing when pH is about 5.

Inkweed (Phytolacca americana): Seeds are dispersed by birds. It indicates a middling condition of soil but the plants get bigger and lusher as you improve the soil. Ultimately a grassy sward will out-compete it.

Lantana (Lantana camara): As well as competing for light and moisture, lantana wages "chemical warfare" against nearby plants.

Native rose-leafed raspberry (Rubus rosifolius): Sandy said in his experience cutting it once or twice was enough to send it into a decline.

Paddy's lucerne (Sida rhombifolia): If it appears in greater numbers than previously, it is a sign of increasing pH but often low organic matter. It's good for building up long lasting (ligneous) organic matter.

Red natal grass (Rhynchelytrum repens): It produces very little biomass, recycles very few nutrients where it occurs, typically cropped paddocks now low in organic matter.

Setaria palmifolia: A native of New Guinea with palm-like foliage. Stems and leaves are covered in 4mm hairs that stick to your skin and causes itchiness. Cattle will eat it. It tolerates fairly low nutrients, acid conditions and some shade.

Sow thistle (Sonchus deraceus): Indicates intermediate to high fertility levels. Often grows under orchard trees.

Spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare): Indicates high - often over high nitrogen levels and often high organic levels.

Tobacco bush (Solanum mauritianum): Don't worry about it unless it is growing next to orchard trees. If you are doing rainforest regeneration, encourage it at the forest edge. It does a good job in .recycling nutrients which will benefit the native trees. Foliage is very high in nitrogen - more than 4%.

Tropical chick weed (Drymaria cordata): Sandy said he had found it quite competitive with pasture swards, particularly areas which are slightly moist or shady. It can go from a high biomass, high turnover groundcover to something that provides very little nutrient turnover. The soil becomes soggy and looses its crumb structure, it doesn't transpire much water and it appears to cause a lot of problems in the soil.

Verbena species (Verbena spp): Four species are naturalised on the North Coast. Sandy said he had seen them build up in numbers, then decline. He interpret this to mean they indicate intermediate state of soil fertility.

Wandering jew (Tradescantia albiflora and others): Six or seven species grow in the TROPO area. Soil beneath it becomes very gluggy it appears wandering jew prevents soil aeration. It also reflect high nitrogen levels. Striped wandering jew is a potential pest in rainforests.

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Postby duane » Tue May 05, 2009 11:02 am

AcresUSA have some really good information on this topic and many others...see

Newman Turner wrote one such article entitled "Nature's Husbandry- Rediscovering Fertility Farming'.

I will post more on this as it comes to hand.

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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW

Postby duane » Wed May 06, 2009 8:54 am

Here is the link to the ACRESUSA article written by Newmant Turner. ... Turner.pdf
You may need to hurry to see it and download it.

I have saved a copy and can email it to anyone should they miss out or want to see it.

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Postby duane » Wed May 06, 2009 9:07 am

Article from Acres USA April Newman Turner

Nature’s Husbandry
Rediscovering Fertility Farming
by Newman
Reprinted from April 2009 • Vol. 40, No. 4

The following principles together
constitute what I have
called “Fertility Farming.” On
my Somerset soil they pay
both in cash and in the satisfaction of
healthy crops and stock which to the true
farmer is as essential a part of success as
financial prosperity. There is no reason
that I know why they should not give
the same, or indeed better, results in different
hands, on any farm in the world,
with modifications to suit individual
fields and conditions.
1. That only on land which is not
adequately supplied with organic matter
and is in consequence too hard and lifeless
to make a seed bed, need the plough
be used again. In building up to this soil
condition the plough does occasionally
need to be used, for instance in breaking
2. Worry about the weather can be at
an end. The weather is my best friend,
come drought, come rain, my crops will
grow as nature intended — from the
organic moisture-laden and nutrimentrich
sponge surrounding the roots.
3. Although I have used weeds for
years in the making of compost, they
had been something of a pest when in
competition with my crops. Now they
no longer offend, for without ploughing,
they can be controlled with ease, and
they become the providers of health and
sustenance for my crops, whenever I care
to use them. They are the servant of the
farmer; nature’s free contribution to the
self-sufficiency of the farm.
4. Without the plough it is possible
to eliminate all the other operations
made necessary by the plough — rolling,
harrowing, cultivating, and all the clodbreaking
and leveling processes needed
to turn the effects of the plough back to
a surface suitable for sowing.
5. The disc harrow is the key implement
on the farm and as far as preparations
for seeding are concerned, the only
essential one. Properly used, the disc will
cut all kinds of green manure or other
organic manure fine enough to allow the
passage of the drill. Whenever the surface
trash is troublesome, until such time
as a suitable drill is on the market, I can
broadcast the seed and disc it in.
6. The farming community can dispense
immediately with the immense

financial burden of chemical manures,
anti-weed and anti-pest sprays; for crops
grown this natural way, with only occasional
use of the plough, are adequately
sustained and maintained in health and
free from weeds by nature’s foolproof
7. Drainage problems sink into obscurity.
All the paraphernalia of pipes
and moles and tiles and trenches, with
the immense labor and machinery costs
involved in providing and maintaining
farm drainage systems, may be dispensed
with in properly afforested areas. For, of
course, we must not forget that however
good our farming, deforestation will
bring it to naught. Except in flood and
treeless areas, a soil containing adequate
organic matter in the right place will attend
to its own drainage problems. The
man-made drain knows only how to dispose
of water, which may later be needed
to save the crop from death.
8. All organic matter should be applied
to the surface, preferably as mature
compost, though if it is kept on the surface
where nature always puts it, applying
it in an undecayed state may be permitted;
in the presence of ample air the
process of decay will continue without
robbing the growing crop and adequate
nutriment will be gathered from the air.
Organic matter on the surface can be
used with the greatest possible speed and
economy by the soil bacteria and fungi,
and will itself absorb from the air, by
means which I must leave the scientists
to explain, not only nitrogen but also
other elements essential to plant nutrition,
and in the process of decay release
unavailable minerals.
9. Fundamental to, and perhaps the
most important essential of this system, is
the fullest possible use of herbs, especially
in the diet of the animals in the leys. Because
of the deep-rooting abilities of practically
all perennial herbs, which are the
kind included in leys, they bring up and
prepare without extra cost to the farmer,
the essential vitamins and minerals which
the foolish farmer and consumer buy at
great cost in bags and packets. These first
benefit the cow when she eats the herbs
and subsequently add minerals to the top
soil when she deposits her dung.
10. A healthy man has all kinds of
germs in his mouth and his system, yet
daily explodes the old-fashioned theory
of bacterial infection by his continuing
health and his resistance to so-called attack
from these germs. In the same way
healthy crops and stock, grown by these
methods, are not infected by disease, and
only rarely by pests.
The effect of applying these principles
has resulted in some remarkable economies
and profits which compare well
with any orthodox chemically stimulated
The greatest saving is on labor and
power. There is also an immense saving
of tractor fuel, for instance, in the
fields which have been prepared for
seeding with four times disc harrowing,
as against once or twice ploughing, plus
three or four times discing, dragging,
cultivating, rolling and all the operations
that are made necessary by ploughing.
Mowing an herbal ley ready for silage-making. This is the stage of growth, just before
flowering of herbs and grasses at which maximum nutritional value per acre is obtained.
Buck-raking the above pasture for silage.
Reprinted from April 2009 • Vol. 40, No. 4
On my own farm in 1942, with half
the farm under crops, I had a regular
staff of eight men with 70 head of commercial
cattle. Today, with a pedigree
herd of 80 to 90 Jerseys and the whole
farm under a four-year-ley rotation, I
have a regular staff of three men, none
of whom had any experience of farming
before they came here.
In the matter of yields, on land which
has formerly been incapable of average
crops without artificial fertilizers, it may
seem reasonable to expect yields to be
reduced slightly in the first year without
them, and again in the second year, while
organic matter is being built up. But on
my land the fall in yields did not take
place, for the crops which required most
fertility were taken on the best fields, and
undersowing with a legume benefited
cereal crops even in the first year. The
retention of organic matter on the surface
by omitting the plough was also the
equivalent of a dressing of manure, even
where nothing was applied.
It was this last point which really
solved for me the problem of any time
lag in a change over from orthodox to
fertility farming methods. The avoidance
of ploughing is not only an immense
economy, but has the same effect on crop
yields as a dressing of fertilizers. It allows
organic matter to remain on or near the
surface where, in the process of decay, it
releases the minerals which, when the
plough is used, are not available because
the organic matter does not effectively
release or obtain the minerals without
ample air.
The basis of the effectiveness of nature’s
husbandry is a fertile soil — and
the measure of a fertile soil is its content
of organic matter, or ultimately its
humus. Nature bases all her forms of
life on humus and attempts nothing
without it. Indeed, until she has created
it, nature’s process of plant and animal
life cannot go on. Though often in later
stages of the cycle of life nature is known
to substitute, she has no substitute for
humus — a point which is paramount
to our conception of successful
fertility farming.
Upon a basis of humus,
nature builds a complete
structure of healthy life —
without need of disease control
of any kind. Nature does
not treat disease because
she is the example of perfect
health — disease is the
outcome of the unbalancing
or perversion of nature —
and serves as a warning that
something is wrong. Disease
is the result of a removal
from natural context or the
withholding or perversion of
natural nutriment.
The avoidance of disease
is therefore the simple practice
of natural law.
The artificial provision of
soluble nutrient short circuits
the mycorrhizal association
. . . the process whereby
fungal threads — known as
mycelium — develop in the
humus and invade the roots
of the plant. This mycelium
is rich in organic protein which is digested
by the enzymes of the root cells.
The sap then carries this nutriment to
the green leaf and enables it to develop.
It is this process which is vital to the
health of the plant, for it is known that
it takes place only in the presence of humus
and that plants deprived of it either
by “short-circuit” feeding, or by lack of
humus, succumb to pests and disease.
We set as our ideal of good soil the
leaf mold of the forest floor. The nearer
this ideal is approached on a field scale
the less cultivation is needed. For such
leaf mold is so porous that it does not
need even stirring to incorporate air;
it is already itself composed largely of
air. Taken in the hand, it feels light and
spongy. Seed need only be dropped in
soil of this kind to find coverage, warmth
and moisture, the ideal conditions for
healthy vigorous growth. It is free from
weed seeds because a material so full of
air and nutriment, so full of moisture
and dissolved mineral salts, quickly germinates
any seed that may be present,
Farmyard manure for compost — finished heaps in background.

bringing it to a stage when it may be destroyed
if not required. Airless soil lacking
in humus, on the other hand, tends
to preserve weed seeds until such time as
the surrounding conditions are ideal for
germination and growth.
Not only is ample organic matter imperative,
but it must remain on or near
the surface. It is useless to apply heavy
dressings of organic manure and then to
plough it down out of reach of aerobic
bacteria, earthworms, and other organisms
of decay. At a depth greater than
five or six inches at the most, depending
on the type of soil, the process of
decay ceases and putrefaction (i.e. decay
by fungi and bacteria working without
oxygen, which break it down to gases
of low food value) takes place. Lower
still the material tends to be preserved
for long periods and only broken down
as it may be allowed some contact with
air as a result of subsoiling or other
disturbance of the lower soil. The ideal
to follow, then, in preparing a soil for
sowing by the methods here described,
is that which nature employs; but because
of the long years of exploitation to
which all our cultivated soils have been
subjected, modification, to the extent of
assisting mechanically the incorporation
of the organic matter with the topsoil, is
The imitative processes may be summarized
as follows:
Except initially when it will be necessary
to break the old plough pan and
admit the air to the subsoil by means of
a sub-soiler, we may cease to touch the
soil below a depth of three inches, except
inasmuch as the deepening humus of the
soil admits the disc harrow in the process
of surface working. But on most farms
the shattering of the subsoil is a necessary
first step towards getting the soil
right for organic surface tillage.
This work is done with a tool called
a subsoiler, which is available on wheels
to be trailed or as a hydraulic fitment
for tractors equipped with a hydraulic
power system. The active part of the tool
is merely an arm which penetrates the
soil to a depth of fifteen to twenty-four
inches, shattering the subsoil without
bringing it to the surface. This is done,
generally up and down the slope where
one exists, at intervals of four feet apart,
or less if tractor wheels allow it without
compressing the subsoiled part.
Once each field has been subsoiled
it should not be necessary to repeat the
operation or to touch the subsoil in any
way, at least for the duration of a rotation.
If it is convenient to subsoil the
land once in each rotation, that is every
seven or eight years, it will be beneficial,
but once deep-rooting herbal leys have
been all round the farm, and are continued
in the rotation, even sub-soiling
should not be necessary. There is no better
means of aerating the subsoil than by
the roots of herbs like chicory, burnet,
lucerne, and dandelion, all of which penetrate
to a depth of 3 or 4 feet and more
in as many years.
We are now realizing that we have
been mistaken to regard weeds as enemies
of the farm crop. Most weeds
are deep-rooting plants which penetrate
the subsoil and bring to the surface
valuable elements (not available to
the shallower-rooting domestic crop)
which have been plundered from the
topsoil by years of exploitive methods. I
have seen my Jersey cattle going around
patches of nettles or docks, eating off
the flowering tops and relishing something
that they have been unable to
obtain from the simple shallow-rooting
ley mixture.
Nature never leaves the earth uncovered.
This is an example which we could
follow with benefit in our farming; one
which I have found to be the most abundant
source of free fertility. The orthodox
farmer coming to my farm would probably
consider me an untidy farmer. For I
have long ago outgrown the desire always
to be killing weeds as fast as they appear
on my land. The weedless farm is still
considered the ideal in orthodox modern
farming, and the farmer who allows
a dock to exist in the middle of a field
is reckoned to be a lazy farmer. But to
my mind, the farmer whose destructive
instincts are perpetually turned on the
weeds of the farm is a wasteful farmer.
We farmers have almost forgotten
about trees, and our only thoughts about
them nowadays are to decide how best
we can cut them down, to make way for
larger and more powerful machines. But
the slow disappearance of trees from our
farmlands has resulted in serious flood
and drought problems, and in declining
fertility. Trees take up moisture and hold
it as required, and it is now common
knowledge that the serious drought areas
are those with few trees. Further, the
roots of trees penetrate to a great depth,
bringing up minerals and trace elements
to the leaves which are subsequently deposited
to contribute organic matter as
well to the surrounding fields. Leaf fall
may seem to be a small contribution to
fertility, but it is an extremely valuable
one which cannot be satisfactorily substituted
Optimum fertility is therefore as dependent
on a proper proportion of the
farm being devoted to trees as on the
application of manures. At least onetwentieth
of the farm acreage should be
occupied by trees, most of which will, of
course, be in hedges. If the farm carries
a smaller acreage than this, immediate
attention should be given to planting
varieties which will have a cash value to
the farm.

This essay presents edited selections from
Newman Turner’s Fertility Farming.
Newman Turner’s Fertility Farming, Fertility
Pastures, Herdsmanship and Cure Your Own
Cattle are available from the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.
See page 61 for ordering information.
Acres U.S.A. is the national journal of
sustainable agriculture, standing virtually
alone with a real track record — over 35
years of continuous publication. Eash
issue is packed full of information ecoconsultants
regularly charge top dollar
for. You’ll be kept up-to-date on all of
the news that affects agriculture — regulations,
discoveries, research updates,
organic certification issues, and more.
To subscribe, call
(toll-free in the U.S. & Canada)
512-892-4400 / fax 512-892-4448
P.O. Box 91299 / Austin, TX 78709
Or subscribe online at:
Reprinted from April 2009 • Vol. 40, No. 4

An Independent Mind
The Legacy of Newman Turner
by Roger Newman Turner
Frank Newman Turner was one of the founders of the
modern environmental movement and published some
of the first organic farming and gardening magazines.
He founded The Farmer, Britain’s first organic quarterly
magazine “published and edited from the farm,” became
a founding council member of the Soil Association, the
U.K.’s leading regulator of organic standards, and served
as president of an early organic horticultural organization.
As a farmer, he received numerous awards in animal
breeding and horticulture. A true visionary, many of his
agricultural innovations are only now being rediscovered
by the new wave of organic farmers and graziers.
He was born in September 1913, the eldest son of
tenant farmers near Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. After
graduating in agriculture and dairying at Leeds University,
he became an inspector with the Potato Marketing
Board. His journalistic skills soon became apparent,
and he wrote regular columns for the British publications
Farmers Weekly and Farmer and Stockbreeder.
In 1940, he moved to the edge of the Chilton Polden
Hills in Somerset, England, where he was to manage
Goosegreen, a mixed farm of about 200 acres, for conscientious
objectors. Here he began experiments in organic
husbandry inspired by the writings and personal
encouragement of Sir Albert Howard, the author of
the classics An Agricultural Testament and Farming and
Gardening for Health or Disease.
When the war ended Turner bought Goosegreen and
continued his experiments in creating “health from the
soil up.” The plow soon became redundant. He believed
that fertility lay in the subsoil and was best sustained
by minimal disturbance. Deep-rooting herbal leys, or
planting blends for pasture, formed the basis of healthy
stock — in Turner’s case a herd of prize-winning pedigree
Jerseys. Ailments among the cattle and draft horses
— and children — were treated by fasting, enemas and
dosing with herbal infusions.
Frank Newman Turner showed no reticence in
communicating his belief that both animal and human
health demanded respect for and cooperation
with nature. Such ideals were at loggerheads with the
powerful agrochemical and pharmaceutical industries,
and Turner was no stranger to controversy. In the early
1950s, at the height of the Foot-and-Mouth disease epidemic,
he challenged the Ministry of Agriculture to allow
him to take infected animals into his herd to prove
the immunity of naturally reared stock. They refused,
of course, preferring to pursue the expensive slaughter
policies which still continue in the Foot and Mouth and
BSE crises of our day.
His innate pugnacity, the stresses inherent in his
various enterprises, not least the problems of publishing
on a shoestring, and what turned out to be a genetic
predisposition to heart disease, proved a lethal combination.
In June 1964, while visiting herbal medicine
suppliers in Germany, Turner died suddenly of a coronary
thrombosis. He was 50 years old. Frank Newman
Turner was one of a small band of visionaries who laid
the foundations for the modern environmental revolution.
He always maintained that health began in the
soil, and this message continues to be carried most effectively
from the grassroots — the small-scale farmers
and horticulturalists who uphold organic principles.
The increasing awareness of mankind’s duty to nature
would have delighted him.
Roger Newman Turner, B.Ac., N.D., D.O., the eldest of
F. Newman Turner’s three sons, is a practicing naturopath,
osteopath and acupuncturist. His 2008 Acres U.S.A. Conference
presentation, “Health from the Soil Up,” is available in audio CD
format from Acres U.S.A.
“Osiris” branching-headed wheat grown experimentally
for the first time in Britain by Newman Turner.
Reprinted from April 2009 • Vol. 40, No. 4

The F. Newman Turner
Publishing Project
One of the core missions of Acres U.S.A. has always been to preserve and
disseminate the timeless wisdom and solid science of the early proponents
of sophisticated, ecological agriculture. Our latest project has literally been
years in the making.
The late Bargyla Rateaver, one of the earliest lecturers in California on
organic farming and gardening — and the first recipient of the Acres U.S.A.
Lifetime Achievement Award — worked with the Newman Turner family to
bring his books back into print in the 1970s. Her simple reprints served to
keep the name talked about in grazing circles, long before grassfed beef was
the vogue. With these editions long out of print themselves, the past two
years have been spent re-typsetting the original books, integrating notes and
corrections from F. Newman Turner’s hand-marked personal copies, and
supplementing them with additional material to help modern-day readers.
With sky-high grain and hay prices, there’s never been a better time to
make farms self-sufficient, self-renewing, and truly sustainable. F. Newman
Turner is here to lead the way.
Turner wrote four books: Fertility Farming, Fertility Pastures, Herdsmanship,
and Cure Your Own Cattle. All four are again available.
Special thanks go to the sons of F. Newman Turner, all living in the United
Kingdom, for their assistance in bringing these projects to life, and trusting
Acres U.S.A. to be steward of this priceless work.
historic covers
for Newman
Turner’s books.
from page 18
Reprinted from April 2009 • Vol. 40, No. 4

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