t "any fool can farm," and this was almost the truth when farming consisted chiefly in reducing the fertility of new, rich land secured at practically no cost from a generous Government. But to restore depleted soils to high productive power in economic systems is no fool's job, for it requires mental as well as muscular energy; and no apologies should be expected from those who necessarily make use of technical terms in the discussion of this technical subject, notwithstanding the common foolish advice that farmers should be given a sort of "parrot" instruction in almost baby language instead of established facts and principles in definite and permanent scientific terms. The farmer should be as familiar with the names of the ten essential elements of plant food as he is with the names of his ten nearest neighbors. Safe and permanent systems of soil improvement and preservation may come with intelligence--never with ignorance--on the part of the landowners.
When the knowledge becomes general that food
Originally serialized in The Country Gentleman, the four articles were released in book form c. 1913 and go into great detail proving a farmer raises nothing first unless it be the soil on which his farm resides.
Though almost a century old, this little book carries with it some remarkable statistics about the nutrients of the soil and goes into detail about experiments carried out over decades to prove what plants need from the soil in which they grow.
The following quote sums up Hopkin's thesis perfectly:
" ... it is not the land itself that constitutes the farmer's wealth, but it is in the constituents of the soil, which serve for the nutrition of plants, that this wealth truly consists."