Many say that insecticide and water-soluble chemical fertilizers are necessary in agriculture. Others claim both are harmful. What are the facts? This problem — directly or indirectly — affects us all. ORIGINALLY our land was so rich that it produced abundant crops every year. Farmers had no insect worries. Then production lagged and insects began to destroy crops. Why?
Man soon used chemical fertilizers and insecticides but insects became worse. Plant diseases appeared and took their toll of our prosperity.
What caused our FIRST onslaughts of insects? What brought our crop diseases upon us? We know that insects and diseases were not just recently created, because "... the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3).
Is Chemical Farming the Solution? Farmers and gardeners have generally ASSUMED that chemicals have become so necessary that they would be lost — that they could not live — without using them. Many believe the land has become irrepairably wasted and can no longer produce NATURALLY. This concept is based upon a misunderstanding of the facts before us and doubts concerning God's promises.
Many farmers recognize that chemical fertilizers and insecticides ARE HARMFUL and would like to stop using them, but are afraid to do so. They believe that without water-soluble chemical fertilizers they would produce very little, and that without insecticides, the little they grew would be consumed by the insects driven to their farms by their neighbors' insecticides.
Even when they see God's promise of protection from "the devourer" — insect devastation — in Malachi 3:11, many are afraid to STEP OUT ON FAITH. It is time to QUIT DECEIVING OURSELVES and to MAKE CHANGES. The solution with plants, as with man, is NOT reached by administering poisons. We CAN eliminate harmful farm practices WITHOUT FEAR OF FAILURE!
Man's Natural Responsibility God created our natural resources in a proper balance and intended that man should keep it so. When a man farms a piece of land, he assumes a responsibility. He obligates himself to farm it properly, maintaining its natural health so that the land will produce food of good quality.
Men have been able to raise good crops without insecticides for many centuries, allowing nature to keep its balance. New insecticides have been used extensively for only about twenty years, in which time man has wrought havoc with our living resources — our God-given wildlife of all forms. Dr. George J. Wallace, Michigan State University zoologist, states that the current widespread use of insecticides is the greatest threat to animal life that North America has ever faced — worse than deforestation, illegal shooting, or drought.
How Do Insecticides Upset Nature's Harmony? When the soil is allowed to produce the microorganisms it needs, various fungi among these organisms provide the plant with antibiotics to protect it against disease. Other organisms manufacture plant food. Man has corrupted this NATURAL balance by wasteful farming practices. Insects increased and man applied insecticides. Some of the poison was absorbed by the produce and consumed by man. A portion of the poison was washed off the plants and into the soil, where it destroyed earthworms and microorganisms.
After these organisms have died, they can no longer maintain the health of plants. Plants become puny and infested with diseases and insects. It appears that diseases and insects were given to us by an all-wise God to cull out inferior quality and to encourage us to produce only quality crops. Scientists admit that healthy plants resist disease and insect pests. The chemical farmer says, "Ridiculous: you can't tell me that a bug will leave a bean alone just because it is grown organically, and eat another one that is grown with chemicals and sprayed with poison. If a bug wants a bean, he will eat the one that is grown organically as readily as he will eat any other, just as you or I will do."
This is the common way of reasoning. But is it logical? Does a bug REASON as a man and DECIDE what he should eat? or does he eat what his God-given instinct directs?
The whole theory of comparing ourselves to insects is absurd. To know that an insect will eat, we must observe the behavior of insects under different conditions. Various experiments have proven that insects normally eat plants that are starving for minerals but do not damage neighboring plants, of the same variety and age, that receive a good supply of minerals. Insects usually select plants that are pale and sickly in appearance. See "Make Friends With Your Land," page 54.
Leading college professors and doctors have presented proof that, when insecticides have been used, insects have increased. Crops that first received only one spraying per year are now receiving six or seven sprayings per year and have more insects than formerly. They have also shown that insecticides are absorbed into the human system and cause many diseases. See chapters 1 and 2 of "Our Daily Poison," by Leonard Wickenden (a well-known professional chemist); published by the Devin-Adair Company, New York.
When man removes crops without returning cover crops to the soil — and allows the topsoil and organic matter to wash away — and fails to replace minerals he has drawn from the soil, nature becomes unbalanced and insects increase. A few years of organic farming will cause these insects to go elsewhere seeking plants that are GOOD for insects and BAD for man.
The worm, by instinct, desires a certain quality, which God designed HIS BODY to need. Man should, by use of his mind, LEARN to choose that quality which HIS BODY needs. The worm, contrary to popular opinion, cannot react like a man. It is tragic that so many men in this world insist upon reacting like worms.
In Chapter 9 of "Our Daily Poison," Mr. Wickenden gives the results of extensive and accurate tests conducted with insecticides in the state agricultural departments in Washington and South Carolina, to determine the lingering effects of poisons. The tests conclusively proved that some poisons were still deadly after being in the soil for five years! They further proved that land which has been poisoned produces much less than land that has received no poison. The degree of influence varies with the crop and with the poison. Rye, that received 20 pounds of DDT per acre for five years, for instance, produced one-fifth as much in its fifth year as land that had not been poisoned at all.
Poisoned soil has effects that are more far-reaching than many have realized. It destroys life forms that appear to be far removed from the danger. Here is one of many measured and recorded examples of the aftereffects of poisoning: In 1954, Michigan State University sprayed its elms with DDT for protection against bark beetles. When their leaves fell to the ground in the fall, earthworms dined upon them. After the spring thaw of 1955, the earthworms were eaten by birds, mostly robins, and the birds died of DDT poisoning. That year only one nest of young robins could be found on the 185-acre North Campus, which had produced 370 young robins during the previous spring. ("Reader's Digest," June 1959, page 65, in the article "Backfire in the War Against Insects" by Robert S. Strother.)
Mr. Strother and many other writers have shown evidence which proves that insecticides destroy beneficial as well as harmful insects, and also hawks, owls, and foxes that eat rodents that have picked up food in sprayed areas. When these natural rodents' enemies are destroyed, the few rodents that remain increase rapidly, which is one of the reasons for the recent invasions of field rats and orchard mice that we have read about in various areas. God had a REASON for creating natural enemies to keep rodents in check.
Are Chemical Fertilizers Harmful? Before we call compare the values of the various fertilizers, we must understand the basic differences in the chemical composition and reaction of the two major types of commercial fertilizers. One type is made up of minerals in their natural state, such as rock phosphate, potash mineral, and limestone. This type of fertilizer is not dissolved by water — it is gradually changed into plant food by the action of carbonic acid, nitric acid, and other organic acids that are formed by the decomposition of organic matter. This natural rock mineral, even when ground to a powder, is used up so gradually that soil tests taken 15 years later show traces of the mineral still remaining. See "Organic Gardening and Farming," November 1959, pages 70 and 71.
The other type is water-soluble chemical fertilizer which has been processed in a factory by unnatural methods. This is the type which is commonly sold on the market and advertised for quick results. Most farmers use it every year and feel they could not get along without it.
The usefulness of any particular fertilizer must be considered on the basis of its effect on the soil, as well as the amount and QUALITY of agricultural products temporarily produced. Our goal must be to produce the quality that will build into our bodies the health that God intended them to have. The land ORIGINALLY produced the needed quality of its own accord, because God, who is perfect, was the first farmer. He created the land in PERFECT ORGANIC BALANCE.
When our farming and gardening operations are patterned after God's NATURAL growing processes, they are organically correct. But when man looks for short cuts, and deviates from the natural way, he invents new systems that are usually perverted. Let us further analyze the quality of a fertile, organic soil and come to a better understanding of our responsibility toward the land we work.
Where Does Health Start? If we want good health, we cannot look to a scientist's test tubes to develop it and sell it to us in bottles. We must look to the soil, from which all food is ultimately derived. Only those who learn how to maintain health in their soil can get health out of it.
Some claim that a plant will select out of the soil all the elements it needs, and in the proper balance, even if the soil is unhealthy. This simply is not true. PLANTS CANNOT take out OF THE SOIL ANYTHING THAT IS NOT THERE.
Look at the natural soil of a weed patch or a hardwood forest floor that man has not touched for years. Here you will find God's way of farming. That topsoil is literally filled with earthworms and smaller organisms, many of which are visible only under a microscope. These are the microorganisms that live by the millions in every handful of healthy topsoil.
Earthworms and microorganisms eat humus (decaying vegetation), and mix it with the soil's natural minerals to produce plant food that grows healthy plants. Minerals, by themselves, are not a balanced ration for plants. They have no life till living organisms or NATURAL chemical actions change them into organic plant foods.
When our earthworms and microorganisms are not hindered in their work, they continuously enrich our land. They maintain a porous loamy texture in the soil which enables it to absorb and hold rain water. A good porous silty loam forest topsoil can hold up to half its volume in water. ("Water, Land, and People" by Bernard Frank and Anthony Netboy, page 33.)
But when man adds to his land a chemical that destroys the essential organisms, the natural organic balance is upset. Without the earthworms and other organisms, the dead vegetation and the minerals are not readily converted into plant food. The dirt becomes hard and dense. No longer will the land absorb and hold a good supply of rain water to last through dry seasons. The land dries out rapidly and produces poorly. MAN MAKES HIS OWN DROUGHT!
What Chemicals Are Destructive? Tests have proven conclusively that the fertilizers that are highly soluble in water are destructive to earthworms and microorganisms, without which no soil can be healthy. Land which does not have these organisms becomes an almost sterile mineral bed. The natural minerals cannot be changed into a balanced plant food without these microorganisms.
How do the water-soluble chemical fertilizers destroy our essential organisms? Their destructiveness works two ways. The rapid dissolving of the chemicals produces in the soil a solution that is SO HIGHLY CONCENTRATED that the soil's organisms cannot live in it. Another fault of the highly soluble chemicals is that they are composed of unnatural combinations of minerals forced together in factory processes. When they are put into the soil they dissolve and seek NATURAL COMBINATIONS with OTHER minerals.
Some of these new combinations go into the plants and glut them with unnatural, unbalanced one-course meals of inorganic minerals. Others of the new combinations remain in the soil, usually in the form of poisons. When sulphate of ammonia is used as a fertilizer, the ammonia is taken into the plant while the sulphate, left free, joins itself to hydrogen in the soil and becomes sulphuric acid, a poison that is deadly to the natural organisms in the soil.
Use of nitrate of soda brings similar results. Plants use the nitrogen and reject the sodium, which then joins with carbon dioxide to form SODIUM CARBONATE, which is WASHING SODA. This compound is likewise poisonous in the soil. Other chemicals used as fertilizers follow the same pattern in adding various pollutants to our soil. (See "Make Friends With Your Land," by Leonard Wickenden, pages 63 and 117.) Is it any wonder that earthworms disappear when chemical fertilizers are used? It is impossible to produce a nutritionally balanced chemical fertilizer. Even a slight disproportionate mixture has been known to give plants a dangerous overdose of certain elements. Feeds poisoned in this way have killed many cattle. Yet men claim that chemical fertilizers have brought great increases in production to the farmers. They quote authoritative-sounding figures to support such claims.
Do not allow a wrong application of figures deceive you. Men have hidden part of the truth and have warped records to suit their own desires. From 1940 to 1947 the United States produced almost one-fifth more corn per acre than in 1920 to 1927. Gains in other crops were similar. Some have erroneously attributed this increase to the great increase in the use of insecticides and chemical fertilizers. This is deceptive reasoning: many other factors have added their bit to this increase.
Reduction of corn acreage has eliminated much of our low-yield land. U. S. Weather Bureau records show that during this period of better production, the weather was more favorable to corn than it had been in the earlier period. Many new, heavier-producing varieties of corn have helped to raise the yield. Almost no acreage was planted in hybrid varieties in the twenties, but about nine tenths of all corn acreage was planted with hybrids in the forties. Hybrids are given credit for increasing the yield per acre by 20%. See Chapter 10 of "Make Friends With Your Land." With all these factors adding to the increase, we should have DOUBLED productivity, instead of adding only a 20% increase in productivity. These records make it abundantly clear that chemicals have not been a blessing to the farmer.
Organic Farming Produces More The reason our farms APPEAR to produce more after applying chemical fertilizers is that the soil has already been rendered PRACTICALLY STERILE by chemicals and erosion. This soil produces poorly just after discontinuing the use of chemicals if no organic matter and NATURAL minerals are put into it. But if these natural materials are disked into the topsoil, the yield is actually increased after discontinuing chemical fertilizers. See "Make Friends With Your Land," pages 22 and 23. Many people have successfully tried this experiment.
Both the richness of the soil and its ability to hold moisture are increased if shallow cultivation is used in order to keep the organic matter in the surface soil. This organic matter will be teeming with earthworms and microorganisms. The acids produced by these organisms will SEEP DOWNWARD and convert underlying minerals into plant food. Such a system imitates God's method of enriching a forest floor. This is thoroughly demonstrated by the experiments of Edward H. Faulkner, as described in his book, "Plowman's Folly."
A careful study of this method was made on Iowa experimental farms by U. S. and Iowa state soil experts. According to "Time Magazine," February 28, 1944 issue, the Iowa tests proved that this method increased production, saved labor expense, greatly reduced erosion, and seemed to keep weeds down better.
Chemical fertilizers that dissolve rapidly do not increase the yield above what can be obtained by organic farming. They only increase the yield above what could be obtained in soils which have been robbed of minerals, organic matter, and living organisms.
But what about the soils that are deficient in certain minerals. Will organic farming put those minerals into the soil? No, but there are ways of putting minerals into the soil naturally WITHOUT KILLING THE HELPFUL ORGANISMS in it.
Natural minerals already mentioned can be applied to soils that have deficiencies. These natural minerals do not destroy earthworms or microorganisms. Crushed limestone will supply any lack in alkali. Finely ground rock phosphate supplies the necessary phosphorus, without the detrimental effects of super-phosphate. Potash mineral supplies potash and also many trace elements. Potash can also be added to soil in the form of wood ashes and, in some areas, by use of ground native rocks. If these minerals are not available in your area, they can be ordered from companies who advertise in magazines that teach organic farming principles.
When we consider that these natural minerals do not have to be added more often than once in several years, they are much less expensive than the chemical fertilizers that many farmers use every year. Before buying minerals, however, one should purchase an inexpensive soil testing kit and test his soil to see which minerals are needed in the various fields.
Men have been AFRAID TO OBEY GOD; but NO ONE SEEMS TO BE AFRAID TO REBEL! As a result, we have brought upon us the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-24 — THE CURSES THAT HAVE TAKEN AWAY OUR PRODUCTIVITY AND OUR HEALTH!
Why Fear to Obey? A Christian should not be afraid to change to GOOD farming methods: WE should fear only to disobey. Our crop failures have been brought upon us by our disobedience (Amos 4:9). God promises to REBUKE THE DEVOURER for the sake of those who OBEY HIM (Mal. 3:11). Can YOU trust God? Others have done so.
Those brethren who have taken God at His word, and have discontinued the use of insecticides and water-soluble chemical fertilizers have found that there is NO NEED TO FEAR INSECTS! GOD HAS KEPT HIS PROMISE AND HAS PROTECTED THEIR CROPS!
A member in Colorado used insecticides two years on his alfalfa and noticed a disappearance of ladybugs and earthworms, both of which are very helpful. He gave his land a year of rest and discontinued the use of poisons. After the year of rest, he worked the volunteer growth into the topsoil. Both ladybugs and earthworms returned to his fields in abundance. Alfalfa weevils did not seriously injure his crop, but invaded the fields of many others, in the same neighborhood, who used poisons and chemical fertilizers. THE ORGANICALLY FARMED FIELDS PRODUCED ABOUT 1 1/2 TIMES AS MANY BALES OF ALFALFA PER ACRE AS THE ADJOINING NEIGHBOR'S FIELD, WHERE POISONS AND CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS WERE USED!
A member in the Texas Panhandle organically farmed land that, in the previous year, had been poisoned with insecticides and with anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. He grew alfalfa and several grain crops without insecticides, and used steer manure for fertilizer. He noticed his land became more porous and loamy and held water more effectively. Insects were NO PROBLEM with him, but did serious injury to the crop of his neighbor who used insecticides and harmful fertilizers.
A member in Florida worked natural growth into her soil and added natural minerals that were lacking. She then grew truck crops without insecticides and found them to be disease resistant. People who had been allergic to strawberries and tomatoes found they could eat, without ill effects, those she grew organically.
Let Us be Doers Let us not be guilty of conforming to the world's corrupt practices. God is training us to APPRECIATE QUALITY. When we produce food, we should concentrate upon building health. Only by seeking perfection in our daily activities can we become fit for God's kingdom, where ONLY PERFECTION will be permitted. In Deuteronomy 28:1-6, God promises to give us health, productive crops, and prolific livestock if we obey Him.
Men who produce unhealthy foodstuffs when they can more easily produce that which is nourishing are, without realizing it, forcing others to violate the command implied in I Corinthians 3:17, which states, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit of God.