Secrets of the Soil

Peter Tompkins, Author, Christopher Bird, With
Peter Tompkins, Author, Christopher Bird, With HarperCollins Publishers $24.95 (444p) ISBN 978-0-06-015817-0
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
To those who practice it, biodynamic agriculture is almost a religion, in which Rudolph Steiner serves as high priest, his Agricultural Lectures as bible. Steiner's dubious faith calls for packing manure into cow horns, burying it for a specified period, then digging up the mixture and diluting it to manufacture a spray that apparently eliminates chemical poisons commonly added to the soil. Tompkins and Bird, coauthors of The Secret Life of Plants , cite the work of scientists and philosophers such as Steiner to support their extravagant claims; they report on the special qualities of glacial water and efforts to produce it in the laboratory, and tell of a plant breeder who believes that birdsong, music and a natural foliar fertilizer can stimulate plant growth (``sonic bloom''). Such exotic journeys into the fringes of agriculture, best appreciated by true believers, make ordinary organic farming and integrated pest management, though perhaps more effective, seem positively mundane. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
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