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Autor:  Winfried [ So 19. Feb 2012, 12:10 ]
Betreff des Beitrags:  Introduction


46 years I studied the problems of soil and soil life.

Theoretically and practically. Scientifically and commercially.

During that time I have spoken with many hundreds of people, all of them wanted to know something about the soil from me. Or were desperate because their ground has been getting worse from year to year despite their best efforts. They were convinced that this was not their fault. And then there were the other who just wanted to make only their business, whether in agricultural land speculation or in the production and sale of agricultural products.

They asked. I replied.

Because to get to know of soil and everything that grows in soil, I have traveled lots of years of my life in all five continents and - apart from the Arctic - I crossed by boat and airplane all the big oceans and most of the smaller inland seas. I know from my personal experiences deserts and jungles, the various forms of local and widespread agriculture, the production of many commodities (Rohstoff: raw material/commodity/resource ?) that play a role on the world market.

This rich picture of my experiences would already have given a good idea of the surface of our star, if I only would have observed the surface, including countless human and cultural relations. But the picture, taken by my eye on a large scale, was followed by the image as it is reflected in the microscope. That at least resulted (yield ?) to some extent the invisible contrasts (contradistinction ?). Here at once many unknown tragedies of dwindling fertility were uncovered and the causes of terrible contamination of a once healthy earth. Deeds and misdeeds of long died generations had left their marks (traces?) here. You could find mistakes, that plowing farmers made to their fields who were laying already for a century in the old village cemetery. But we also saw the development of earth history, rise and fall of climate, ice ages, "streets" of devastation by heavysstorms (Sturmstrassen = storm streets ?), late legacies of pole-and sea displacements (Meereswanderungen = ?). And last but not least they discovered the continuous sowing of soil life by the trade winds that constantly load themselves with life and life remains and drop them blindly - what perhaps led the first invisible ancient creatures to germinate wherever and to settle.

Thus, in this gigantic movie of my life, where nothing left to be desired to its chroma, protocols piled up (accumulated ?) for many, many soils, small and large plants in water, air, and a thousand different habitats. They left behind in my head a cross section through the world of microbes which spanes through the nature and culture, industry and soil cultivation zones to the terrible waste and wastewater and finally to the dead ground (terrain), where the soil is completely washed off of former fertility by wind and water.

From fat notebooks, careful notes and sketches, and micrographic photos, in which not only I but also my late husband, Dr. hc Raoul H. Francé, have held countless details and relationships of soil life world, more than half a century later, the present work was created.


The triggering cause of it but was this:

Again and again I saw that someone who spent his entire life in the service of the soil, virtually had no concept of this soil. Ignorance from (of?) forefathers (ancestors?) mingled undisciplined with fragments of chemical propaganda from the sale lists of commercial fertilizers agents. Formulas of NPK, maximum doses of specialty fertilizers, addition of lime and drainage success, of neighborly advice in relation to earthworm farms and nodule bacteria, circled around wildly. All this was often quite unconnected in memory and piled up in their minds. Past perceptions, memories and ideas alternated with false statements and correct observations. It was incomplete, because a lot of inherited had been preserved in it, and the bygone (past?) had been replaced with up-to-date (contemporary?), that was (became?), in the end, the same meaning. New experiences had to replace former ones, as it turned out quite often, that the knowledge of the forefathers, even if they wanted, could not apply to the tight current economic conditions. And indeed, it is because in the course of a few generations the same earth had become something else entirely.

What you believe - what you do not believe - it lacked the certainty of knowledge. What happened at all if you ever fertilized with what? Or what if you do not clearing out the stables, but instead pulling bags of fertilizer? Ultimately, the processes set in motion were not or not sufficiently known. On your own you could not decide, you had to rely on books and reports. But do you knew that you could rely on them ?

The ancient world was already writing books on agronomy. We have been around 150 years witnessed an abundance of agricultural literature, which is no longer consumable. The radio, television, press, agricultural teachers, agricultural schools do their part. They preach the latest news, as the latest must always be the better. You will not believe it, that not only the textile and garment industry fear the word "unfashionable" beyond all measures. In agriculture, too, no one may speak of the ancients (Altvorderen = ?) and their opinions. You have to feel ashamed when you quote the grandfather, who at the time but was a successful agriculturist and achieved premium prices for early vegetables and potatoes. One has to believe today formulas and references, who in turn rely on other formulas, and according to these rules one has to adjust itself. Although it is virtually impossible to convince them(selves?) of exactly "how" and "why", because the day is filled with work already because of lack of people. Things are so that you have to believe something that one has never seen.

It has only one criterion: the higher yields.

The ears are longer and heavier, and the grain size increases. The cabbages are increasing. The beet has more juice or higher percentages of sugar, or both. The clover can be cut in a blessed year sometimes even a third time. But why?

Is this all really just the result of increased mineralization of which depends supposedly anything and everything?

Then again, there were experts who swore on the crumb structure of soil, stable (permanent,durable?) humus, certain humic acids, and on the soil capillaries and the like. They put everything on the false and unfavorable salinity or acidification of soils. On location and type of groundwater. In far too heavy or too deep plows and cursed the previous generation, when the "trenches" with special plows had not digged (?) deep enough to come down to "fresh ground" to bring it up. Then there was the question of tractors and muzzle, the "animal-free agriculture" and its benefits. On the basis of long calculations showed the consultants and vendors that one cannot afford no unprofitable one acre - as if that was not known already by every farmer ever before ! And the word "ground balance" was always written larger.

But for all that they knew not what's really going on in the soil.

Fewer and fewer dare to pull the old traditional considered. More one-sided and intolerant is a world that consists mainly of chemical formulas, machinery, fuels, calculations, and a fierce battle against the increased import of too much foreign grain, vegetables and fruits.


Like that my visitors "poured their heart out" (? = schütteten ihr Herz aus) at her property or in my laboratory. Large and small farmers, market gardeners, rich rancheros, poor devil of tenants, explorers who wanted to colonize the earth at some remote areas. Head of religious brotherhoods, who transferred impoverished battered poor people somewhere in the jungles so they could return back to the family and nature. People with decades of failures, the directors of agriculture companies, foresters, fighting against the wild or for allowed felling. But there were also climate change researchers, groundwater specialists, courageous pioneers who stood for life in the war against erosion, river regulation, water fertilization, bush burning and the like sacrilege to the fertile earth.

And of them all I had to state at some point in our informative conversation that they don't know nothing about life in the soil and far too little about the biological cycles that go without interruption from death to life and back, in which all life issues and are interwoven (filed?) and in the sense of life issues also chemical changes of the soil. And where countless number of factors, trends and reversals are engaged.

In order to learn at least something of these states or, more correctly, the condition of the soil, one must study the "Edaphon". "Edaphon" is derived from the Greek "edaphos" which means in this form, "all the living in the soil." R.H. Francé gave it that name when he started at first about 1906 to study the completely unknown life in the soil at that time. On this his first studies more or less the soil biology today is based.

The get to know the soil life is not so simple. Cumbersome, difficult and lengthy observations are essential. With the naked eye nothing of it can be seen. As a result, people, who believe in it, mostly speak only of the "soil bacteria" or "soil fungi." Up to the large millimeter small fauna of the upper soil zone, the entire soil living is far below the limit of visibility. One has taken only quite recently excellent image documents according to the so-called Strugger'schen method (Councillor Dr. A. Lehner Netzsch at the Bavarian State Institute of Agronomy and Plant Protection, Munich), demonstrating that virtually every soil crumb actually almost entirely consists of diminutive life as yet entirely unclassified. It is therefore underneath the Edaphonzone, which can be observed very well at 600-1000-fold magnification, a yet much smaller zone, in which one has been discovered, but not only, algae and bacteria. It is of nearly molecular size, as, for example, the tobacco mosaic virus. Francé, who suspected some of them already, called this the "Nannedaphonsphere". The soil life thus consists of several steps (orders?) of magnitude, that are in their entirety beyond the naked, human eye.

In other words - you can make it to the farmer thus in no way a reproach, that he has either no or a very poor idea about the processes (events?) in his soil.

As so often in human life also theory and practice is divided into two completely separate areas.

This is probably the reason why the soil scientists and practical farmers and gardeners want to know so little about each other. And why the fact that there even exists a soil life, to those, who create our crops, is mostly unknown.


I need to take this opportunity to say something about soil biology textbooks. Because there are very good in all countries and all cultural languages.

It has been already worked out a comparative systematic approach (of soil) beside the much longer known life community of the plankton. The first one originates from 1912 by RH Francé under the title "The Edaphon, Studies on the ecology of soil dwelling microorganisms", 1 to 4 Edition, Stuttgart, Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung. But what was missing until today, was an overview of the relationships between soil life and soil. Not all soil researchers even today can say with certainty why a certain part of the biocoenosis Edaphons belongs to a particular soil condition (state?). Much less, why you have to do here with a deficient soil, there with contaminated soils, elsewhere with a slow-forming layer of fertility. On soil chemistry and soil physics, you can't already find out about, mostly because these are very unstable conditions. They are constantly changing, just because the life in them is changing. And its change depends on the chemical or physical findings.

So you can do nothing else than the communities or biocoenoses to know as precisely as possible. Then you can judge for some time, what does it mean that this or that organism or a particular group of organisms are preferred - dominant - lives with others. Relationship ((phylogenetic I think)) does not matter in this case. Decisive, however, is the living space and a certain general similarity of needs. Not only biological but also material balance is usually sought by all members of a biological community (biocenosis). On this basis, then often develops a greater wealth of species and individuals within the biological community (biocenosis).

In an average textbook for soil biology we learn not much of it. Unfortunately, in most cases even very little. The tenets that are found, are rarely limited only on usefulness or harmfulness of a single microbe. She is represented in pure culture. The electron microscope provides a 40,000 to 100,000 times magnification of a rod, a screw or a ball. In the text, the behavior of this bacterium or the amoeba is stated with respect to certain substances, radiation, high or low humidity, with acidification or salinization. But always in the artificial 'pure' association of a monoculture, which can be produced and monitored only in the laboratory with a lot of effort.

In nature, however, there is no monoculture.

If there is anything like a monoculture at all, like the sudden flood with any organisms - no matter what - occurs, it means always a disease. It is the same as the penetration of a pathogen infection in an animal or human body.

The laboratory monoculture forces every organism to live his life differently than his own law of his live requires it to him. In the earth he eats or is eaten. It exists often in common colloid skins. Of its biological community (biocenosis) it receives vital substances in the form of infusions, sometimes gases. He himself in turn releases vital substances for others, metals, trace elements and soil minerals, that, through him, get the necessary biological passage.

The biocenose can sometimes only be one or a few dozen microbes. There are also much larger biocenoses. Very many have existed for millions of years and are therefore essential for life support. The number of individuals varies greatly. We know, however, unfortunately, not enough from equilibrium within communities in order to know only one of a harmonic ratio. They certainly exist - but trace elements, seasons, acid conditions and the circulating compounds have a decisive role. And you can not learn this in the laboratory, especially not by the pure culture.

All of these diverse and varied applied forces may be passed, because all communities are in balance with each other, which ranges (reach,extend,suffice,stretch,span?) up to the above-mentioned surface dwelling small animals, early forms of mites, spiders, ancient insects. They are all of about few millimeter in size, springtails, the Tysanuren, the Collembola, also tiny beetles and dwarf worms that live in turn by the individual representatives of the Edaphon.

I don't know of any textbook that refers to all these facts.

It is found nothing about it, that the soil consists of 11 classes, each of which is again divided into numerous families, species and subspecies.


There is a difference between the above classification system of Annie France-Harrar:

class > family > species > subspecies

and the contemporary one:

1 Reich Regnum kingdom
2 Abteilung/Stamm Divisio/Phylum phylum
3 Unterstamm Subphylum
4 Klasse Classis class
5 Ordnung Ordo order
6 Überfamilie Superfamilia
7 Familie Familia/familiae family
8 Unterfamilie Subfamilia
9 Gattung Genus/genera genus
10 Art Species / sp. species
11 Unterart ssp. (?) subspecies

This has to be investigated and solved.


In percentage terms, it looks like this:

20% of micro algae
7% of micro-fungi
7% of protozoa (ciliates and flagella (?) )
15% of amoebas and testate (?) amoebas
2% of nematodes
2% of rotifers
27% of soil bacteria and viruses
13% of indigenous microflora and Nannedaphon
7% of cysts and spores i.e., small creatures in a moment's rest state

That would be the harmonious relationship of a fully mature humus soil. However, these figures presuppose that he was not disturbed from all possible causes. That it was ever an ideal soil, that does not exist any more since a long time in countries with ancient agriculture. For each manure, each cultivation, each harvest shifts (alters?) the harmonious relationship. Above all, change of phosphorus, nitrogen, lime and potassium (potash?). Temporary or permanent soil acidification makes itself felt. Floods usually takes a gratifying increase in assimilating micro-algae (*). Within which changes the relationship between silica, blue- and green algae. This often increases the alkalinity, because many of the silted organisms are salt-affine (?).

All these transient changes are important for the functioning of plant roots. Because they go hand in hand with the formation of volatile chemical substances, which penetrate the soil structure for a while and then disappear again. Co-enzymes (ferment ?), unsaturated fatty acids, citric acid, nicotinic acid, the various humic acids, sulfur, lime, potash, magnesium compounds, hydroquinones - all suddenly appear on the activity of soil life and disappear again. The active soil is a conglomeration of events that constantly move between positive and negative, between the composition and decomposition back and forth, but always intimately connected to the soil life.

The primary therefore is the life in the soil, under its natural conditions, which can be compared to the observations in the laboratory only used relatively, as well as all the information and illustrations in the microbiology textbooks.


The difficulty lies in the fact that a farmer can hardly know his soil by his own studies.


He has no time. His work is quite another. One can not assume that he has a good enough microscope. A small school microscope is of little help to him. Sometimes, certain observations have to be carried out for months. Only an experienced mikrobiologist can judge the results properly. For the life in the soil is in its dimensions as able to make (differnt) decisions as well as is graded individually as in the far more stretched dimensions of the earth.

This gap between the soil biology and the practical agricultural work at some time has to be bridged. The fertility of the earth has to be made visible and understandable for the one who deals with it all his life. He should learn to recognize that the whole success of his effort depends on that there is enough and properly tuned together soil life. That the annual harvest of grain, fruit, hay and wood, only mirror the activity of organisms that are constantly transform minerals, fertilizers, rain, dust, sunlight, plant residues and wastes of all kinds into garden and farm soil.

I have tried, therefore, in the present work, at least in general, to represent a picture (reproduce an image ?) of the biological communities of the soil. This "Manual of soil life" came from a summary of many years of study, experience, countless experiments in the laboratory and outdoors. There are only forty pictures, and one could easily contribute twice as much. But they are selected so that they at least give an overview on a large scale. An overview of how fertile soil is built up, how one can destroy and ruin them and what laws are to be expected, if damage is very extensive effect. The decomposition by erosion, the importance of stored elements, that are only by the edaphon received again in the cytoplasmic loops, the many ways by which plants make themselves their humus with the help of microbes - all were held in pictures of the living microbial communities within their environment. Pictured in a way how it results of essential functions as long chains of functional forms which are again closely and tightly intertwined, emergeing from the various cycles of the soil and return into it again.

Because the formation, ongoing new formation and maintenance of soil is the only stationary point in the restlessness of constantly changing phenomena that also includes (comprise) what we distinguish as organic and inorganic, and the earthly time as well as the earthly space, through which life and death in all imaginable gradations (steps,degrees?) are constantly chasing each other.


Invisible live communities forming invisible landscapes.

If one wanted to represent the now following communities of soil life in (concerning?) their size relations as they really are and how they relate towards (in respect to?) their environment, the viewer would get a picture, with which his eye would not know what to do. We are seeing at all only fiction, sections (excerpts, clippings) of material realities, but just only sections (excerpts, clippings) by color, shape and perspective. But are used to these sections (excerpts, clippings) and we can deal with them by that way. Our senses and the marks in our environment correspond, and both together suffices enough so that our "vision" gives us a coherent picture.

If, however, the size relationships vary between a ridge and a fraction of a millimeter, you can not only not see both at the same time, but also you can not represent it in whatever kind as a (one?) picture. We need to focus on one or restrict it to the other - but you can not represent both on a sheet of paper together.

As these pictures - the first in this form (shape?) - was begun, there was the enormous difficulty of reconciling the visible of our world and the invisible of the microcosm of the soil to a common denominator. It had a denominator to be found which not only allowed, after all, still a human understandable picture, but also not forced a completely false mask to the microscopic facts.

There was nothing else than by the term "landscape" to create a convention, which could be applied to both the visible as the invisible. Even the landscapes in which man lived and will live forever, are only conventions that correspond to the reality only very partially and only according to our needs. Their criterion is the function and starting from that the functional form. That we understand, because we always have to do with functions and functional forms. We need to transfer in this case only the familiar to the unfamiliar.

Color and shape has on these pictures for each microbe documentary value. It could therefore not be changed. Also the size differences within the spatial relationships from the millimeter and micron downward, that are fixed between the single-celled organisms, could not be altered arbitrarily. They are part of their law of life, concerning nutrition, safety, and community life in general. This all happens also lawfully amongst the invisible, and these laws are infinitely old, (if only) because the single-celled life must be infinitely old. Hence (thus) the life sphere of micro-creatures had to be conserved, and they had to be displayed in a way so that the viewer sees easily that they can only exist in this sphere of life, and that all of its functions are completely adapted to it. However, it was necessary for the viewer to interpret it, to indicate (suggest, hint?) a familiar environment at least, although again this environment is certainly not conscious and recognizable for the protozoa, microalgae and bacteria. It is repeated here, from another point of view, the problem of man, who lives indeed (but) in the universe, but until now has no exact idea of it.

These 40 pictures, each of which represents the "landscape" of an actually existing community of life, are so very aware adjusted to the human convention of "seeing". This makes them come alive, understandable, and provide a glimpse into the life laws of a existence, that countless times crosses ours, in the deepest influenced by plasmatics and inseparable from it. As the fertility of the earth and the creation of new habitats exclusively crosses this threshold, we have every reason to finally know it with proper understanding and support. From our attitude (setting?) nothing else is required, as the atomic physics ask of us concerning the relative size of the infinitely great and the infinitely small.

Humus and soil life are still in the pioneering work of individual characters. And so let these pictures also pioneer the way for a new understanding.


(*) The pictures, that are referred to in this text, are actually combinations of drawings by colored pencils or paintings by watercolor or both or water-soluble colored pencils.


Nach 1/2 Jahr gemeinsamer Übersetzungserfahrung von "Die letzte Chance .." nun mein erster Versuch mit Google translate einer eigenständigen Übersetzung eines Textes aus dem "Handbuch des Bodenleben".

Jetzt braucht es noch den "Feinschliff" eines "native english speaker".

Den aber habe ich bis heute nicht gefunden.

Aber über ein Dutzend Leute, die sich von dem Vorhaben einer Korrekturlesung wieder verabschiedet und nie wieder etwas von sich haben hören lassen.

Also wer einen weiß, der es auch wirklich macht ..

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