The soil is the ‘creative material’ of most of the basic needs of life. Creation starts with a handful of dust.William Albrecht, 1888-1974
William A. Albrecht was born on a farm in 1888 in the Mid-West United States. He was the foremost authority on the relation of soil fertility to human health and earned four degrees from the University of Illinois. He went on to be emeritus Professor of Soils at the University of Missouri. Dr. Albrecht saw a direct link between soil quality and food quality – a link which necessarily lent itself to human health. His work made clear that health stems from the soil.
He developed a formula for ideal ratios of cations in the soil, the Base Cation Saturation Ratio. While he did not discover cation exchange in the soil as is sometimes supposed, he may have been the first to associate it with colloidal clay particles.
Albrecht was outspoken on matters of declining soil fertility, having identified that it was due to a lack of organic material, major elements, and trace minerals, and was thus responsible for poor crops and in turn for pathological conditions in animals fed deficient foods from such soils.
He laid the blame as ‘NPK formulas, (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) as legislated and enforced by State Departments of Agriculture, mean malnutrition, attack by insects, bacteria and fungi, weed takeover, crop loss in dry weather, and general loss of mental acuity in the population, leading to degenerative metabolic disease and early death’.
Albrecht was a prolific author of reports, books and articles that span several decades, on his death he left his research papers to his friend Charles Walters who promoted the ideas by founding the magazine Acres USA, which continues to be at the centre of the ideal soil movement, and is the current owner of the research papers.
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