Fertility Farming


by Newman Turner

Faber and Faber Limited
24 Russell Square

First published in mcmli
by Faber and Faber Limited
24 Russell Square London W.C.1
Second impression mcmli
Third impression mcmlii
Printed in Great Britain by
Latimer Trend & Co Ltd Plymouth
All rights reserved

The author loading a green crop for silage

MY MOTHER who taught me to think for myself



Part One
Why Fertility Farming?
1. Getting Goosegreen back to Life
2. Cash Comparisons
3. Basis of Fertility Farming
4. Farming Without Plough or Chemicals

Part Two
Practical Farm Management
5. Soil Management and Cropping Rotation
6. Making Use of Weeds and Other Pests
7. Grazing Round the Calendar
8. The Ley on the Fertility Farm -- Costs and Returns
9. Managing the Ley
10. 'Yard-and-Parlour' Milking and Compost
11. Field Recording
12. Weatherproof Harvesting

Part Three
Going Fertility
Fifty-two Weeks Fertility Farming
13. Preparing for the Change
14. Fifty-Two Weeks Farming

Part Four
The Livestock
15. Which Breed?
16. Going Pedigree
17. Pigs and Poultry on the Fertility Farm

Part Five
Animal Diseases
Their Prevention and Treatment by Natural Methods, and with the Aid of Herbs
18. Livestock Diseases
19. Tackling Disease
20. Mastitis
21. Other Diseases -- Johne's Disease; Blown; Sterility; Tuberculosis; Milk Fever; Rheumatism; Calf Scour
22. Observations on the Behaviour of Cows with some Possible Explanations
23. The Dread Disease -- Abortion

1. Estimating quantities of silage, hay, straw, roots and compost in stacks and heaps

2. Recommended Suppliers; Recommended Reading
3. Visitors; Opportunities for training
Dairy Farm layout
Plan of Goosegreen Farm


Author loading silage crop
1. Discing in compost -- Topping the Ley
2. Fertility farming and 'Scientific Farming'
3. Ley management -- Winter sward
4. Spreading dung droppings
5. The Milking Parlour -- Milking in progress
6. Compost making
7. Tripod haymaking
8. Building tripods
9. Take the bull for a walk -- Polden Polo
10. Pilot wheat heads -- 'Osiris' wheat
11. Tractor compressing silage -- Seed oats and vetches
12. Digging a silage pit
13. Out all their lives
14. Grazing wheat -- Pit silage without waste
15. The Natural Plough -- Reclamation with pigs
16. Soil Erosion in Britain
17. Fertility Farmed crops -- Weedless stubble
18. Some of the Goosegreen Herd
19. The Perfect Winter Food
20. Johnes disease case -- Tuberculosis recovery
21. Milk and Butter Test winners -- Leading bull parade
22. Handling device for cattle
Dairy Farm layout
Plan of Goosegreen Farm


Photographs of plates la, 2a, 5a, 8b, 12, 14a, 16, and 20 by the author: plate 15c by D. A. Guest, Edlington, Doncaster: plate 21b by Herbert, Weymouth; plate 16a by Farmer's Weekly; plate 16b by the News Chronicle; all other photographs by Douglas Allen, Bridgwater.


Fertility Farming owes its existence to the inspiration of Sir Albert Howard, whose guidance and encouragement was the starting point of much of the work which it describes. When he urged me to write a book about my work at Goosegreen, he knew that my full-time occupation as a working farmer would make its completion a matter of years; yet he went to considerable lengths to persuade me that it was a duty which must be fulfilled. I shall always regret that I was unable to complete the book before his death in 1947; but he firmly deprecated claims and reports without the basis of solid practical results, so I have used this as the measure of all my work rather than rush into print with extravagant claims and statements. Fertility Farming is thus essentially practical, and omits any of my work or treatments which have not yet been proved by the test of success over a number of years. This applies in particular to the section describing my treatments for the main cattle diseases; for any unproven claim in this respect would discount the rest of my farming system which I believe to be basic to the future maintenance of animal health.

Practical farming and animal husbandry have been my life work since I was born the son of a Yorkshire tenant farmer. My scientific training in the agricultural departments of two universities was an interlude from farm work which helped me the more to understand to what extent and in which way modern farming has gone wrong. From this foundation the practical development of the system of fertility farming was a natural and consequently easy process. But the recording of this work in book form would not have been possible without the cooperation and generous assistance of many friends; to the following in particular I must pay my grateful tribute. My wife and sons for their patient consideration and help in spite of frequent neglect of them during the writing of the book; Rae Thompson, for her devotion to the work of typing and retyping the manuscript at all hours of day and night, and for shouldering many other tasks to relieve me for writing; Juliette de Bairacli Levy, whose knowledge of veterinary herbs has been continuously at my disposal; Lawrence D. Hills, for reading the manuscript and making many detailed and valuable suggestions and for information about Russian Comfrey. I am also grateful to Malcolm Messer, the Editor of The Farmers' Weekly, for permission to use some material which I first wrote for his journal; to Edward Faulkner for many clues to success provided by his book Plowman's Folly; to Douglas Allen for most of the photographs; and to the many farmers and breeders who provided 'incurable' cattle for my work on animal diseases.

    F. Newman Turner
    Goosegreen Farm,
    near Bridgwater, Somerset,
    February 1951

Next: 1. Getting Goosegreen back to Life

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