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Anyone want to talk about Farmers of Forty Centuries?

 
pollinator
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Who has read the book "Farmers of Forty Centuries" and wants to discuss it?

For starters: the Chinese farmers in the book seem to have been trying to create anaerobic conditions in their compost heaps; they seem to have put a lot of effort into so doing. Why were they doing this instead of aerobic composting? Or were they creating anaerobic conditions?

(This starter question is why I'm posting this in the composting section.)
 
Gilbert Fritz
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About the anaerobic compost; could it have facilitated nitrogen fixation by free living bacteria? And or would it speed mineralization?

I'd always heard, though, that the alcohol and other compounds formed during anaerobic composting were harmful to plants.
 
pollinator
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I had never heard of the book, and so I searched it. It's apparently freely available to read from the University of Macau's website. Hopefully this helps pick up the pace of this discussion a bit.

I've only skimmed through a few chapters on Compost, but you are right in your observation. With that method which uses so much mud covering, it seemed like they were favouring anaerobic conditions. I'll give it a further read this month to see if I can piece a theory together.
 
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I've had the book saved on a flash drive for awhile...a long time organic farmer friend highly recommended it.  This thread might get me to dig it out and read more thoroughly.  
 
Gilbert Fritz
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One unfortunate thing about the book is that there is very little explanation of some observed details, and the book is just an overview. Are there more in-depth books available on Chinese or Japanese agriculture from the pre-fossil fuel era that would add to this discussion?

Fukuoka comes to mind, but he actually broke the local traditions in many ways; both the modern extension service and the more traditional farmers thought he was crazy.
 
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I'm working my way through it right now. I wish there were better pictures available but they're pretty good for 1914. I also was trying to find information about the whole canal system but couldn't find anything other than the grand canal. I'll probably come back to this thread when I've gotten further into the book
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