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May 1, 1915


JAMA. 1915;LXIV(18):1503-1504. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02570440043016

For the better part of a generation, we have been hearing of the exhaustion of the soil in this country. Abandoned farms in New England had to be given up because they returned such poor crops that their further cultivation was not worth while. Important elements for plant life and growth were said to have been ruthlessly taken from them by wasteful farming and never restored, and it was prophesied that the same thing would happen to our great farming lands in the Middle and Far West. The popular impression existed that the earth beneath our feet was "an inanimate mixing bowl out of which plants ate as cattle feed from the trough. What was not put in could obviously not be taken out; and since chemical analysis proved that plants do absorb mineral plant food elements, the bowl must quite as obviously run empty unless we poured back as