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Fundamentals of organic agriculture

past and present

Kirchmann, Holger and Thorvaldsson, Gudni and Bergström, Lars and Gerzabek, Martin and Andrén, Olof and Eriksson, Lars-Olov and Winninge, Mikael (2008). Fundamentals of organic agriculture. I/In: Organic crop production : ambitions and limitations. Sid./p. 13-38. Springer, Dordrecht
ISBN 978-1-4020-9315-9
[Book Chapter]

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Official URL: http://www.springer.com/life+sci/agriculture/book/...


Organic agriculture can be traced back to the early 20th century, initiated by the Austrian spiritual philosopher Rudolf Steiner. It was later diversified by a number of key people, and more recent versions are guided by principles issued by the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), founded in 1972. Organic practices were built upon the life philosophies and convictions of the founders regarding how to perceive nature. Today, those original views and ideas are considered as history. However, to understand the principles and opinions of modern organic agriculture, such as the exclusion of water-soluble inorganic fertilisers, we analysed the original ideas and arguments of the founders, who shared the common principle of relying on natural processes and methods, seen as a prerequisite for human health. For example, the British agriculturalist Sir Albert Howard, who together with Lady Eve Balfour founded the British Soil Association, claimed that healthy soils are the basis for human health on earth. In their view, healthy soils could only be obtained if the organic matter content was increased or at least maintained. Later, the German physician and microbiologist Hans-Peter Rusch together with the Swiss biologists Hans and Maria Müller, focused on applying natural principles in agriculture, driven by the conviction that nature is our master and always superior. Even though these early ideas have been abandoned or modified in modern organic agriculture, the principle of the founders regarding exclusion of synthetic compounds (fertilisers and pesticides) is still the main driver for choosing crops and pest control methods.

Authors/Creators:Kirchmann, Holger and Thorvaldsson, Gudni and Bergström, Lars and Gerzabek, Martin and Andrén, Olof and Eriksson, Lars-Olov and Winninge, Mikael
Title:Fundamentals of organic agriculture
Subtitle:past and present
Year of publishing :2008
Page range:13-38
Publisher:Springer, Dordrecht
ISBN for printed version:978-1-4020-9315-9
Additional Information:The original publication is available at http://www.springer.com
Publication Type:Book Chapter
Version:Accepted version
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:Obsolete subject words > FORESTRY, AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES and LANDSCAPE PLANNING > Soil science
Keywords:Ethics, Founders, History, Life philosophy, Nature philosophy, Theories, E. Balfour, A. Howard, H-P. Rusch, R. Steiner
Permanent URL:
ID Code:3509
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
(S) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
Deposited By: Staff Epsilon
Deposited On:26 Jan 2009 00:00
Metadata Last Modified:02 Dec 2014 10:22

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