Early warnings of humus degradation and soil loss.

Published in Grail World 54/2009.

For centuries it was not recognized that uprisings, revolutions, wars, colonialism, emigration were exacerbated or even triggered by the impoverishment of excessively used arable land, the yields of which are declining.

Brought a first, important insight into soil fertility Justus v. Dear (1803 - 1873) with the discovery of the nutrient cycle in plants. This made it possible to artificially supply missing nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, etc. in order to increase the yields of depleted soils.

What was still missing was the knowledge of the importance of the composition of humus and, in particular, of its complicated soil life.

"The very thin blanket between the water table and the green vegetation, that is the wealth of a country."
Raoul H. Francé (1, p. 15)

The biologist who was widely read in the first half of the 20th century Raoul Francé (1874 - 1943) coined the term "Edaphon" (after edaphic = concerning the soil) in 1912 and became the founder of soil ecology.

After many years of research he published fundamental works (1 and 2) on the importance of humus - a layer only centimeters thick on the mainland of the earth - on which all land creatures depend directly or indirectly. His work "Life in the Ackerboden" was a bestseller in the 20s and 30s.

After the death of Raoul Francé his research was supported by his wife Annie who had worked with him for decades. Annie Francé-Harrar (1886 - 1971) pointed in their extensive work of almost 700 pages (3) published in 1950, that of Einstein was admired for the importance of humus for the well-being, indeed the survival of mankind.

A number of other professionals recognized the importance of humus and the importance of maintaining healthy soils. In 1950, for example, the alarming book "Die Erde avenges sich" (6) was published, which warns of the worldwide loss of soil through deforestation, erosion, overexploitation, and overexploitation. In the 1970s, “gardening, farming without poison” (5) was a widespread allotment gardener's bible.

There has been no lack of serious references to the importance of humus and the increasing loss of fertile soils around the world. But these warnings went largely unheeded into the 21st century, with the exception of a few ecologists and organic farmers engaged in soil conservation and improvement.

In spite of the fact that there is better knowledge, conventional agriculture still cares too little about the microorganisms that are so important in their fields.

In terms of large-scale chemistry, the yields of highly cultivated plant varieties with mineral fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc. should be increased, which damage rather than promote healthy soil life. -

Also read on the topic "Honorary salvation for a soil pest"Under" Strange Stories ".


(1) Francé Raoul, Das Leben im Ackerboden, Franckh'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, 1922.

(2) Francé Raoul, Das Edaphon, Franckh'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart, 1921.

(3) Francé-Harrar Annie, The last chance for a future without need, Bayerischer Landwirtschaftsverlag, Munich 1950.

(4) Francé-Harrar Annie, Humus, Bayerischer Landwirtschaftsverlag, Munich, 1957.

(5) Seifert Alwin, Gärtnern, Ackern - ohne Poison, Biderstein, Munich 1971.

(6) Vogt William, The earth avenges itself, Nest-Verlag, Nuremberg, 1950.

Extensive bibliographies are provided by (2), (3) and (6).