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From: (Jay Mann)
Subject: Re: Modern soils depleted of vitamins?
Date: 17 Nov 1997 20:11:43 GMT

Barbara Cameron ( wrote:
: Is there any scientific evidence that our soils that grow our foods
: are depleted of vitamins and minerals?

Vitamins are made by the plants growing in/on soil.  The plants do not
require any vitamins in the soil.

There is very little evidence that modern styles of farming lead to mineral
depletion.  Since plants in general require similar minerals to those needed
by animals, a depleted soil would be a poor-yielding soil.  Many farmers
include trace elements with their bulk-fertilizer mix, for this reason.  The
style of agriculture often has more effect on soil than the kind of
fertilizer used.  For instance, farming styles which involve three crops a
year, with repeated plowing, and bare soil left exposed, can be expected to
cause severe loss of soil organic matter.  (Soil organic matter is important
to plant growth, but probably not to plant-eaters.)  Farming methods that
keep a plant cover on the soil, such as either usual "organic farming" or
the pasture-pasture-crop rotation practiced by many New Zealand farmers (who
do use chemical fertilizers) maintain soil organic matter.

On the other hand, it's a lot easier on the brain to simply believe that
depleted soils are causing all sorts of human health problems.  Herr Goebels
was exactly right: the big lie, repeated often enough, gets believed.

 Jay D Mann  <>
Christchurch, New Zealand

From: Oz <>
Subject: Re: Soil Minerals
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 18:52:21 +0100

In article <5riiki$iid$>, John Scudamore
<> writes
>Oz wrote:
>> In article <5rhndm$302$>, John Scudamore
>> <> writes
>> >
>> >I am not confused at all, you have been conditioned by the chemical
>> >industry.  The reason the plants become diseased is due to stress,
>> >exactly the reason we need antibiotics.
>> So feeding them properly will of course reduce the stress.
>> Roll on the bag of nutrients.
>How much of this is a product of the oil industry?

Just the nitrogen, of course. The phosphate comes from rock phosphate
and the potash from mines.

>Three nutrients, NPK
>is hardly what I call a balanced feed.

It depends what you need. If you need Mg, then you apply that. Ditto for
all the elements. What on earth makes you think that that's all farmers
apply? Of course many soils do not need trace and/or minor elements
elements, so to avoid waste, you don't apply them.

Applying minor and trace elements to soils that need them is hardly new,
it's been going on for 50 years. The fact that the major nutrients
require the major application rates is simply because that are major
nutrients. That's why they have that name, surprisingly.

>> No, it's mostly because they get an infective dose of pathogen.
>The reason they get an infective dose of bugs is because they are under
>stress, due to intensive farming, which puts their immune system under

I can only speak for dairy cows, although I doubt sheep and pigs are
much different. Well, mostly they don't get ill. If you feed and treat
them appropriately then animals don't get stressed. Stressed animals
stop growing, or producing milk, way before they start getting ill
because of stress. You might observe that a non-growing or non-milk
producing animal is bankrupting his owner, so a farmer has a real
incentive to have calm, stress-free, well fed and looked after animals.
Also if you are milking cows, or looking after pigs 6 days a week,
helping them calve or farrow in the dead of night and otherwise putting
yourself out significantly for their welfare then you can't carry on for
long unless you have a considerable liking and affinity for the animals.
So you know how to avoid stressing them, and wouldn't want to.

>How many years does a dairy cow live for, compared to a beef

Oldest cows here were born 1982, I guess that makes them 15 years old.

>Alternative medicine, generally,  has a different model for disease than
>the one you use of orthodox medicine.  This model has pathogens arising
>due to poor nutritional status (and dirty water).  It gives us an
>example of why plants get "attacked" by fungus and parasites---because
>they have been overbred for yield, and overfarmed with fertilizer which
>leaves them deficient in nutrients---a state more open to disease.

They were a lot more deficient in nutrients 30 years ago, of that I can
assure you, categorically. It's only because they are well fed that
yields have tripled since then. I can also assure you that disease was
heavily rampant in the organic days, it was just expected and there was
nothing you could do about it. I guess you have heard of the Irish
potato famine for example?

>Like roses they have been so overbred that they need spraying to stay
>alive or produce decent flowers.  Imagine taking antibiotics just to
>stay alive.

Wait until you need some. Then you will demand it as of right.
Anyway, the idea that the old roses were disease free is erronious. Even
in Victorian times one of the quoted advantages of the London air
pollution was that roses were much healthier.

>I don't think you would disagree that organic food has more nutrients?
>Just one, selenium, is locked up more by modern fertilizer. Selenium
>deficiency became a big problem for the sheep industry in Oregon after
>high sulphur fertilizers were used.

Yup. Sulphur inhibits selenium uptake. Exactly why were they using so
much sulphur? Until recently you got it free from air pollution.

>Plants only need 14 or so
>nutrients, while man needs 35!  We need many more minerals for health
>than plants do for growth.  Some parts have 100ppm to others 0.1 ppm.
>So, you can grow plants with NPK but is it good enough for human
>nutritional needs?  Time to put selenium on the soil?  The farmers can't
>afford to do that, and as the oil industry wouldn't benefit it is not
>going to happen, is it?

Selenium is rarely put on the soil. It's given very carefully to animals
as a supplement. One has to be careful, the toxic dose is only about
double the requirement for some animals.

>(Reprint from READER'S DIGEST - March 1936)

That well know bastion of refereed scientific information snipped, as it
should be.

>(c) 1935, Center Publications, Inc., 30 Rockefeller Plaza, N.Y.C.
>(Rockefeller Center Weekly,
>October 31, 1935)

As is another up-to-date advertising bumph.

Do you really think that in the last 60+ years nothing has been learned
or put into practice? Perhaps you think farmers, the Agricultural Govet
Department and Agricultural advisors are still in the 1930's, if so I
have news for you.

'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

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