Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
the mass conversion of Evangelism occurred around the
same time as chemical fertilizers, new seeds, and new
crops were being introduced to Guatemala.
—Sean Cole, “Spiritual Warfare: Evangelical Protestants
Convert Catholics,” The Story , American Public Media,
March 19, 2013.
Chemical fertilizer is something of a miracle, though
one born of human ingenuity. Instead of fertilizing the land
through manure, leaving land fallow, or planting cover crops,
we reach deep into the earth for phosphorus and potassium,
and up to the sky for nitrogen. Modern chemical fertilizers are
not necessarily better than ancient sources of enrichment, as
they provide only some of the nutrients plants need, but they
are far less expensive.
Without chemical fertilizers we could feed only 60-70 per-
cent of the current population, some researchers believe. So
reliant are we on nitrogen fertilizer that of all the nitrogen
in the muscles and organs of humans, almost half of it was
created in a fertilizer factory. The Amazon basin was once
thought a poor location for any agriculture besides peasant
farming, but because of fertilizers it has become an agronomic
superpower. Chemical fertilizers are a blessing, and most
agricultural scientists agree that they are the most important
source of yield increases in the last century. Anyone who uses
them will be astounded at their impact on plants, so much so
that it is understandable that some Guatemalans can mistake
these yield enhancements for a divine gift.
What is happening in Guatemala is simply a continuation
of the Green Revolution—a revolution not of politics but of
agriculture. The hero of the revolution was Norman Borlaug,
who some say is a contender for the greatest American of the
twentieth century. Developing new varieties of crops for the
developing world in the 1950s and 1960s, and then teaching
farmers how to raise them with modern fertilizers, Borlaug's
movement increased the world production of food calories
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