The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

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Lady Eve Balfour, The Living Soil (New York: Devin-Adair CO. 1950).

Along with Sir Albert Howard's work, Lady Eve Balfour's The Living Soil marks the beginning of a new movement that we know today as organic farming. In her work, she presents a comprehensive program for improving the human condition through improved farming. At the basis of her approach is the "Law of Return."

Identifying human health with the health of farm produce, whether animal or vegetable, she called for improving soil fertility. To achieve this, she argued against the policy of protecting crops from pest by means of sprays and powders, which is unscientific and unsound--"for even when successful such procedure merely preserves the unfit and obscures the real problem, how to grow healthy crops." She recommended following the traditions of peasant farming which continued to "return all wastes, all organic matter, to the land."

Lloyd Ackert
Whitney Humanities Center
Yale University
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P.O. Box 208298
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