- Series: Conservation Classics
- Paperback: 422 pages
- Publisher: Island Press; 1st edition (December 1, 1987)
- ISBN-10: 0933280440
- ISBN-13: 978-0933280441
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (Conservation Classics) 1st Edition
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About the Author
J. Russell Smith is a member of the Northern Nut Growers' Association. More than a hundred members of the Association contributed detailed reports of their own experiments.
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This leads to another problem though, its been reprinted by about 3 different companies at different price points. There isn't much difference between all the reprints. Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (A Friends of the Land Book) This is the one I recommend.
The book starts with three chapters arguing for tree-based agriculture instead of our annual-plant based system. The basic idea is that constantly planting and tilling results in extracting more nutrients from the soil than can be replaced, it causes erosion, with the loss of nutrient filled topsoil into rivers and streams, and eventually, the nutrients and topsoil will be gone, and a desert results. Smith gives examples of this process from around the world. The solution, he argues in chapter three, is to plant hilly areas with trees, which limit erosion, replace nutrients, and when chosen well can provide crops as nourishing and useful as those we get from grasses. This takes about 30 pages. Pages 33 through 312 in my copy are devoted to specific examples of trees, with the cultivation techniques, expected yields, and so forth that I referred to above. Pages 313-360 give examples of farms combining multiple tree crops and their successes. Pages 360-388 discuss "the current state of research" (in 1929, remember) and the book closes with several appendices of climate conditions and crop choices. It is a masterpiece of research, literally a life's work in one volume.
Following up on Smith's advice, I went to my local garden shop recently to inquire about honey locusts. Oh yes, I was told, we sold quite a few to the city as shade trees. No, no, I said, I want a messy variety, one that drops bushels of pods. She looked it up. Apparently the breeders have indeed been at work since Smith wrote -- eliminating the seeds from a tree that could provide nutritious feed to replace the corn and soy beans whose production has been ravishing the planet for decades! The book should be in every permaculturalist's library but in every rural public library, as well, and regularly taught in our terrible agricultural colleges.