Following the westward expansion of the nineteenth century, US agronomists found themselves plagued by soil degradation and erosion as a result of unorganized development. In an effort to find answers, Western scholars soon focused their attention on China, home of the oldest farming country in the world, where Chinese farmers were successfully maintaining the strength of their land after thousands of years of cultivation. In 1909, US soil scientist F. H. King and his entourage crossed the ocean and began a trip through East Asia. He carefully observed how the Chinese farmed, trying to unravel this oriental mystery with modern scientific knowledge, and discovered that traditional Chinese fertilizer was the key. At the same time, as the trend of Western learning spread across the East, Western chemical fertilizers expanded throughout China. As such, Chinese and Western fertilizers finally converged within...

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