Farmers of forty Centuries

Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea and Japan by F.H. King (reprinted by Rodale Press Inc.) Published first in 1911, Professor King's last work is a fascinating compilation of notes and photographs made by the noted soil scientist as a visitor to Japan, Korea, and China in the first decade of this century. Dr. King's interest during his visit was development of capacities to feed people adequately from a limited land resource base. A lifetime later, so many nations are face-to-face with this vital issue, to which Dr. King's remarks are no less relevant.

The theme of intensive local human and natural resource use to produce food, fuel, fiber, and fodder runs throughout this book. Detailed observations on water use, manure management, crop diversification, human culture, and numerous other topics appear in each of the book's 17 chapters. To enhance the range and wealth of information offered to readers through his clear and descriptive text, Dr. King included 248 photographs and illustrations. Beginning to end, this classic work is about people and land use in the absence of electronic and petroleum-based agricultural technologies, like much of the world today.

For readers whose experience includes living, working, or traveling in Japan, Korea, or China, Farmers of Forty Centuries is likely to invite comparison and contrast between present and past agricultural practices there. For others yet to set foot in these nations, Professor King's prodigious account of a faraway time and place establishes a solid historical context in which to pursue one's interest in the region. From any perspective, it is clear that agricultural practices which have endured 4,000 years merit the title "sustainable." Most importantly, readers will enjoy Professor King's work.