Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Orientals Crowd Both Time and Space"

Below, the first three paragraphs of Chapter XI of that title from Franklin Hiram King's 1911 tome, Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan (originally titled Farmers of Forty Centuries; Or, Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan):
    Time is a function of every life process, as it is of every physical, chemical and mental reaction, and the husbandman is compelled to shape his operations so as to conform with the time requirements of his crops. The oriental farmer is a time economizer beyond any other. He utilizes the first and last minute and all that are between. The foreigner accuses the Chinaman of being always "long on time", never in a fret, never in a hurry. And why should he be when he leads time by the forelock, and uses all there is?

    The customs and practices of these Farthest East people regarding their manufacture of fertilizers in the form of earth composts for their fields, and their use of altered subsoils which have served in their kangs, village walls and dwellings, are all instances where they profoundly shorten the time required in the field to affect the necessary chemical, physical and biological reactions which produce from them plant food substances. Not only do they thus increase their time assets, but they add, in effect, to their land area by producing these changes outside their fields, at the same time giving their crops the immediately active soil products.

    Their compost practices have been of the greatest consequence to them, both in their extremely wet, rice-culture methods, and in their "dry-farming" practices, where the soil moisture is too scanty during long periods to permit rapid fermentation under field conditions. Western agriculturalists have not sufficiently appreciated the fact that the most rapid growth of plant food substances in the soil cannot occur at the same time and place with the most rapid crop increase, because both processes draw upon the available soil moisture, soil air and soluble potassium, calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen compounds. Whether this fundamental principle of practical agriculture is written in their literature or not it is most indelibly fixed in their practice. If we and they can perpetuate the essentials of this practice at a large saving of human effort, or perpetually secure the final result in some more expeditious and less laborious way, most important progress will have been made.

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