The Waste Products of Agriculture

Sir Albert Howard writes “The Waste Products of Agriculture: Their Utilization as Humus” with Yeshwant T Wad. Published by Oxford University Press in 1931 and now out of print.

The Soil and Health Library says: Howard’s most important scientific publication, detailing the nature, practice and significance of Indore composting, especially to Indian agriculture.


The maintenance of the fertility of the soil is the first condition of any permanent system of agriculture. In the ordinary processes of crop production, fertility is steadily lost; its continuous restoration by means of manuring and soil management is therefore imperative.

In considering how the ideal method of manuring and of soil management can be devised, the first step is to bring under review the various systems of agriculture which so far have been evolved. These fall for the most part into two main groups:

  • (1) the methods of the Occident to which a large amount of scientific attention has been devoted during the last fifty years; and
  • (2) the practices of the Orient which have been almost unaffected by western science. (In the general organization of agriculture, Europe stands mid-way between the east and the west and provides, as it were, the connecting link between these two methods of farming.) The systems of agriculture of the Occident and of the Orient will now be briefly considered with a view of extracting from each ideas and results which can be utilized in the evolution of the ideal method of maintaining and increasing the fertility of the soil.