Excerpt from The Fertility of the Soil: Being the Seventeenth Robert Boyle Lecture Delivered Before the Oxford University Junior Scientific Club on the 3rd of June, 1910
Becomes a noxious beast of prey. Since the publication of these views of the functions of protozoa in the soil, confirmatory evidence has been obtained from various sources. For example, men who grow cucumbers, tomatoes, and other plants under glass are accustomed to make up extremely rich soils for the extensive culture they practise, but despite the enormous amount of manure they employ, they find it impossible to use the same soil for more than two years. Then they are compelled to introduce soil newly taken from a field and enriched with fresh manure. Several of these growers have observed that a good baking of this used soil restores its value again; in fact it becomes too rich and begins to supply the plant with an excessive amount of nitrogen. It has also been 'pointed out that it is the custom of certain of the Bourbay tribes to burn vegetable rubbish, mixed, as much as possible, with the surface soil, before sowing their crop, and the value of this practice, though forgotten in European agriculture, is still on record in the books on Roman agriculture. We can go back to the Georgics again, and there find an account of a method of heating the soil before sowing, which has only received its explanation within the last year, but which in some form or other has got to find its way back again into the routine of agriculture.
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