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Good Soil For Food

1996 Published in: Technocracy Digest, 4th quarter 1996, No. 322  

We read a letter by Dr. C. F. Bentley, P. Ag., Professor Emeritus of Soil Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, for Soil Science 316, to the Editor of The Western Producer, a farm paper produced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, about farming practices and the need for soil conservation.

Technocracy research has shown us that: excluding Antarctica, the earth has 52.5 million square miles of land area. Of that, only 11 percent, or 6.7 million square miles is arable soil, more or less suitable for growing farm crops. At 640 acres per square mile (259 hectares), the earth has 4.3 billion acres of arable soil, and it has 5.778 billion people, which equals only 0.74 acres per capita. And this is certainly not evenly divided among the people; much of it `belongs’ to large wholesale growers and is used to grow “cash” crops, whether or not they are useful to the local food supply. Since, on average, 1.1 acre is required per capita to provide a decent living standard, it is easy to see why more than a billion people are living in poverty, and many are starving. Further, if present population growth is maintained, the population will double in 46 years, and there will be less than 3/8 of an acre per capita. And the number of people starving will increase accordingly.

Because of this research, we were wondering what people were going to do for food in the very near future. In spite of Technocracy’s 60-year warnings, nothing yet has been accomplished to provide food for people of this Continent, let alone the world’s teeming millions. Oh, there have been Summit meetings at which food has been discussed — but very little has been distributed.

So, we wrote to Dr. Bentley to ask him if he could provide us with more literature so that we could write a factual article about the viability of soil producing enough food for our, even now, overflow of population.

Dr. Bentley, in his letter to us, stated that: “many people do not know that plants, animals and people all require about 16 chemical elements in their sources of nourishment in order to grow, be healthy and reproduce. The amounts of those essential elements in soils of the world are enormously variable and as a result of the nutritional quality for animals (or other forms of life that live on plants materials) are highly variable. Moreover, the appropriate use of fertilizers and soil management practices such as crop rotations can improve or maintain the nutritional quality of plant materials importantly.”

From the sheaf of papers he sent us, we present, and quote, in the rest of this article, some of his notes which we have extracted from a copy of a lecture he prepared in 1991 on his concepts and philosophy of “Links Between Human Welfare, Soil Quality and Soil Management”:

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