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The Agriculture Course

Agriculture Course: Discussion after Lecture 6

Schmidt Number: S-5770

On-line since: 26th June, 2007


14th June, 1924.

Question: Can the method given for the nematode be applied to other insects? I mean, to any kind of vermin? Is it permissible without further scruples to destroy animal and plant life in this way over wide areas? The method might be greatly abused. Some limit ought surely to be set, to prevent a man from spreading destruction over the world.

Answer: As to its being permissible, let us assume for a moment that such a thing were not permitted. (For the moment I will not speak of the ethical — occultly ethical — question). If such procedures were not allowed, what I have repeatedly hinted at would inevitably follow: agriculture would go from bad to worse in civilised countries. Not only intermittent periods of local starvation or high prices would occur, but these conditions would become quite general. Such a state of affairs may well be with us in a none too distant future. We have thus no other choice. Either we must let civilisation go to rack and ruin on the earth, or we must endeavour to shape things in such a way as to bring forth a new fertility. For our needs to-day, we really have no choice to stop and discuss whether or no such things are permissible.

Nevertheless, from another point of view, the question may still be asked; and from this aspect we should rather consider how to establish once more a kind of safety-valve against misuse. It goes without saying that when these things are generally known and applied, abuses will be possible; that is quite evident. Nevertheless, it may be pointed out that there have been epochs of civilisation on the earth when such things were known and applied in the widest sense. Yet it was possible for those among mankind who were in earnest to keep these things within such bounds that the misuse did not occur.

Abuses did indeed occur in an epoch when far graver abuses were still possible, because these forces were universally prevalent. I mean during the later periods of Atlantean evolution, when a far greater misuse occurred, leading to grave catastrophes. Generally speaking, we can only say that the custom of keeping the knowledge of these things in small circles and not allowing it to become more general, is justified; but in our times it is scarcely possible any longer. In our time knowledge cannot be retained in limited circles; such circles immediately tend in one way or another to let the knowledge out.

So long as the art of printing did not exist, it was easier; and at a time when most people were unable to write, it was easier still.

Nowadays, for practically every lecture — however small the circle where you hold it—the question is immediately raised: Where shall we get a shorthand writer? I do not like to see the shorthand writer; one has to put up with him, but it would be better if he were not there (I mean the shorthand writer, not the person, needless to say).

Must we not also reckon, on the other hand, with a further necessity—namely, the moral improvement of all human life? That alone can be the panacea against abuses—the moral upliftment of human life as a whole. Admittedly, when we consider certain phenomena of our time, we might become a little pessimistic; but in regard to this question of the moral improvement of life we should never tend to a mere contemplation of facts. We should always try to have thoughts that are permeated with impulses of will. We should consider what we can really do for the moral betterment of human life in general. This can arise from Spiritual Science. Spiritual Science will have nothing against it if a Circle is formed which will act from the outset as a means of healing against possible abuses.

After all, in Nature too it is so: everything good can become harmful. Think for a moment: if we had not the Moon-forces below, we could also not have them above. They simply be there; they be working. That which is requisite and necessary in one sphere in the highest degree, is harmful in another. That which is moral on one level is decidedly immoral on another. That which is Ahrimanic in the earthly sphere is only harmful because it is in the earthly sphere. When it takes place in a realm that is but a little higher, its effect is definitely good.

As to your other question, it is quite right: the method I indicated for the nematode applies to the insect world in general. It applies to all that portion of the animal world which is characterised by the possession of an abdominal marrow and not a spinal marrow. Where there is spinal marrow, you must first skin the animal. In the other case, the whole creature should be burned.

Question: Did you mean the wild camomile?

Answer: This camomile, with the petals turned downwards. (As in the drawing, Diagram 14.) It is the “Chamomilla officinalis ” — growing wild by the wayside.

Question: Do you also take the flower of the stinging-nettle?

Answer: Yes, and you can take the leaves too — the whole plant at the time when it is flowering — only not the root.

Question: Can one also take the dog camomile that occurs in the fields?

Answer: That is a species more akin to the right one than the garden camomile which is now being shewn. The latter is quite useless. The one you refer to is also sometimes used for camomile tea. It is far more akin to the right one, and may be used if need be.

Question: I take it the camomile growing here along the railway track is the right one?

Answer: Yes, that is the right one.

Question: Will what you said of the destruction of weeds apply also to water-weeds?

Answer: Yes, it applies also to plants that grow out of the swamp or out of the water; it applies to water-weeds. In such a case you must sprinkle the banks with the pepper.

Question: Can underground parasites, as, for instance, the cabbage root-fly, be combatted by the same means?

Answer: Undoubtedly.

Question: Can the remedy for plant-diseases also be applied to the vine?

Answer: It has not yet been tested — I, too, have not tested it and little has been done in this direction occultly. I can only say, I am convinced the vine could have been protected if one had gone about it in the way I have indicated.

Question: What of the so-called grape leaf-fall disease or downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola)?

Answer: It can be combatted in the same way as any other kind of rust, mildew or blight.

Question: Is it legitimate for us as anthroposophists to resuscitate vine-growing?

Answer: To-day, in many respects, Anthroposophical Science can only be there to say what is. The question of what ought to be is more difficult as yet, for many spheres of life. I knew a good anthroposophist friend who possessed extensive vineyards. However, he used a considerable portion — not all too large a portion — of his annual profits to send out postcards through the world preaching abstinence. On the other side, I had a friend who was himself a strict abstainer, and who, moreover, was very generous to the anthroposophical movement throughout his life. He was, however, responsible for the placards you see everywhere an the tramcars — “Sternberger Cabinett” (a kind of champagne). Here, then, the practical question becomes rather ticklish. You cannot get all you want nowadays. Therefore I said, it is the cow-horns which we take from the cows to bury in the earth. As to the bulls' horns which we might don, to run up against all and sundry in a bull-at-the gate fashion — by so doing we might easily cause harm to Spiritual Science.

Question: Might not the bladder of the stag be replaced by something else?

Answer: No doubt it may be difficult to get stags' bladders; and yet — how many things that are difficult are not done in the world! One might of course try if one could not replace the bladder of the stag by something else; I cannot say at the moment. Maybe there is a species of animal somewhere — indigenous, perhaps, to some very limited territory in Australia for instance; but I can imagine nothing similar among the European native animals. In any case it would have to be an animal bladder. I cannot recommend you immediately to think of finding substitutes.

Question: Must the position of the stars always be the same for combatting insect pests?

Answer: It will have to be tested. I said that the whole series is important from Aquarius to Cancer. Undoubtedly, within these limits, a variation among the constellations for the different kinds of lower animals will be significant. It must be tested.

Question: Did you mean the astronomical Venus, for the field mice?

Answer: Yes, that which we call the evening star.

Question: What “constellation of Venus with Scorpio?”

Answer: Whenever Venus is visible in the sky with the Scorpio constellation in the background. Venus must be behind the Sun. Question: Has the burning of potato haulms any influence on the thriving of the potatoes?

Answer: The influence is so slight as to be practically negligible. There is indeed an influence; there is always a certain influence, whatever you do with any organic relic. It influences not only the single plants, but the entire field. But the influence is so small as to be practically negligible.

Question: What do you mean by “Rindergekröse” (bovine mesentery in Lecture 4)?

Answer: The peritoneum (“Bauchfell”). That surely is the generally accepted meaning of “Gekröse”

Question: Is it the same as “Kuttelflecke” (tripe)?

Answer: No, it is not the same. The peritoneum is meant.

Question: How should the ash be distributed over the fields?

Answer: I said just what I meant. You do it as though you were sprinkling pepper into something. It has so great a radius of influence that it is quite sufficient if you simply walk over the fields and sprinkle it.

Question: Do the preparations work in the same way on fruit trees?

Answer: Generally speaking, all that I have said applies to fruit culture also. A few things, still to be considered, will be given tomorrow.

Question: It is the custom in farming to give the farmyard manure to turnips and the like. Is the specially prepared manure important for cereals also, or should the latter be treated differently?

Answer: Existing customs can surely be retained, at any rate to begin with. The point is simply to add what I have indicated. As to other usages of which I have not spoken, you surely need not begin by representing everything as bad — trying to reform everything. Truly, I think you can continue the methods that have proved good, and supplement them with what has been given. I should, however, state that the influence of the methods I have indicated will be considerably modified if you use manure that is rich in sheep or pig dung. The effect will not be so striking as it will be if you avoid using sheep and pig dung to excess.

Question: What if one uses inorganic manures?

Answer: Mineral manuring is a thing that must cease altogether in time, for the effect of every kind of mineral manure, after a time, is that the products grown on the fields thus treated lose their nutritive value. It is an absolutely general law.

Precisely the methods I have given, if properly followed, will make it unnecessary to manure oftener than every three years. Possibly you may only have to manure every four or six years. You will be able to dispense with artificial manuring altogether. You will do without it if only for the reason that you will find it much cheaper to apply these methods. Artificial manure is a thing you will no longer need; it will go out of use.

Nowadays, opinions are based on far too short periods of time. In a recent discussion on bee-keeping, a modern bee-keeper was especially keen on the commercial breeding of queens. Queens are sold in all directions nowadays, instead of merely bring bred within the single hives. I had to reply: No doubt you are right; but you will see with painful certainty —if not in thirty or forty, then certainty in forty to fifty years' time — that bee-keeping will thereby have been ruined.

These things must be considered. Everything is being mechanised and mineralised nowadays, but the fact is, the mineral world should only work in the way it does in Nature herself. You should not permeate the living Earth with something absolutely lifeless like the mineral, without including it in something else. It may not be possible tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow it will certainly be possible, quite as a matter of course.

Question: How should the insects be caught? Can they be used in the larval state?

Answer: You can use the larvae and the complete winged insect equally well. It may only involve a slight difference in the constellation. The proper constellation will move to some extent in the direction from Aquarius to Cancer as you pass from the winged insect to the larva. For the insect itself, the proper constellation will therefore be more towards Aquarius.

Last Modified: 18-Apr-2017
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