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Hugh Hammond Bennett Quotes

Quotes from Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett, “father of Soil Conservation” and the first the Chief of Soil Conservation Service.

The following quotes are from: H. H. Bennett and W. R. Chapline. Soil Erosion A National Menace. U.S. Department of Agriculture Circular No. 33., Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1928. These quotes are from the section of report written by Bennett.

There are national associations for the preservation of wild flowers and for the preservation and propagation of wild life but none for the preservation of the soil. Conservation of this most fundamental and important of all resources is seldom seriously considered by any one not directly or indirectly associated with the ownership or management of a farm, and it is too infrequently considered even by the farmers themselves. Page 19.
To visualize the full enormity of land impairment and devastation brought about by this ruthless agent is beyond the possibility of the mind. An era of land wreckage destined to weigh heavily upon the welfare of the next generation is at hand. Page 22.
That some 15,000,000 acres or more of formerly tilled land has been utterly destroyed by erosion in this country is but an insignificant part of the story, for it is the less violent form of erosional wastage, sheet erosion, that is doing the bulk of the damage to the land. Page 22.
What would be the feeling of this Nation should a foreign nation suddenly enter the United States and destroy 90,000 acres of land, as erosion has been allowed to do in a single county? Page 23.
Shall we not proceed immediately to help the present generation of farmers and to conserve the heritage of posterity.....A little is being done here and there to check the loss—an infinitesimal part of what should be done. Page 23.
The writer, after 24 years spent in studying the soils of the United States, is of the opinion that soil erosion is the biggest problem confronting the farmers of the Nation over a tremendous part of its agricultural lands. Page 23.

The following quotes are from: H. H. Bennett. "Adjustment of Agriculture to Its Environment." Annals of the Association of American Geographers XXXIII (December, 1943): 163-198. This was Bennett's presidential address to the Association of American Geographers. September 18, 1943, Washington, DC

In other words, the treatment must fit not only the needs and adaptabilities of the land but the needs and adaptabilities of the farmer as well. Page 169.
Soil conservation is probably the youngest of all the agricultural sciences. Page 170.
Conservation farming put first things first by attending to the needs of the soil—by seeing to it that the starting-off place, the base, is put into sound health and kept that way. Any other approach, no matter what it may be, always has and always must lead eventually to agricultural disaster. Page 173.
Too many people have lost sight of the fact that productive soil is essential to the production of food. Page 174.
Almost invariably, conservation farming—which, after all, is common sense farming with scientific methods—begins to show results the very first years it is applied. Page 177.
And, usually, it takes no more labor or machinery to carry on conservation farming than it does to farm the wasteful way—without consideration of conservation needs. Pages 177-178.
Many farmers—most farmers, and that means millions—need some technical help in making the change to this more efficient, easier, and more productive type of farming, and they need also moral support and encouragement. Page 178.
As a nation we need to renew our acquaintance with the land and reaffirm our faith in its continuity of productiveness—when properly treated. If we are bold in our thinking, courageous in accepting new ideas, and willing to work with instead of against our land, we shall find in conservation farming an avenue to the greatest food production the world has ever known—not only for the war, but for the peace that is to follow. Pages 178-179.
We have been too wasteful too long in this country—indeed, over most of the world. We had so much good land in the beginning we thought the supply was limitless and inexhaustible. Page 179.
... land must be nurtured; not plundered and wasted. Page 180.
If there were some standardized simple remedy for the ills of the land that could be applied indiscriminately, the job of soil conservation would be comparatively easy. But there is about as much variety in erosion and the performance of the water and wind as in the landscape of the country. Page 180.
Before any work is done, each farm or ranch is carefully analyzed, both as a piece of land and as a business enterprise. Page 181.
... soil conservation is not just an incidental bit of the mechanics of farming; it becomes part and parcel of the whole business of making a living from the land, and is the only way by which we may have permanently productive land for a permanent agriculture to support a permanent nation. Page 183.
One of the best, and certainly the most promising, of the devices yet invented by man for dealing democratically and effectively with maladjustment in land use, as well as for carrying forward positive programs of desirable conservation, and for maintaining the work, is the soil conservation district. Page 194.
These activities in the United States show that fundamental readjustments between land use and land capability, on a far-reaching scale and in wide geographic variety, are not only technically possible, but economically practical, and socially essential. Yet, what has been achieved so far is but a beginning on the job ahead—a job which must be undertaken vigorously and soon. Page 197.
Productive soil is life, and productive soil is vanishing with each passing year. Page 197.

The following quotes are from: Hugh Hammond Bennett. The Hugh Bennett Lectures. Raleigh, North Carolina: The Agricultural Foundation, Inc., North Carolina State College, June 1959.

From every conceivable angle—economic, social, cultural, public health, national defense—conservation of natural resources is an objective on which all should agree.
Usually it is marginal land that breeds marginal farming and marginal farmers. Page 9.
Land use according to its capability conforms with natural law. Page 9.
The ready availability of good land and wildlife for so many generations gave rise to a careless and prodigal attitude toward our wealth of natural resources. Page 18.
Soil has long been confused with land. It is but one part of land. For conservation purposes land must be regarded in terms of all its component parts: soil, slope, climate, susceptibility to depreciation by erosion, over-cropping or other processes of deterioration. Pages 18-19.
Permanent soil conservation is an essential first step toward solution of the farm problem. Page 10.
Productive land is neither limitless nor inexhaustible. Page 20.
Land must be expertly cared for if it is to be maintained in a productive state. Page 20.
Productive land must assume an ever more prominent position in the thinking of the people and their leaders. Page 20.
Since society as a whole depends on the produce of the land for its present and future existence, society as a whole must share in the responsibility and costs of maintaining land in a productive state. Page 20.
We have found there is no blanket, short-cut method for getting the conservation job done. There is no quick and easy way out. Page 21.
The work of the Civilian Conservation Corps is a story in itself—an epic in conservation accomplishment. The camps assigned to the Soil Conservation Service carried out a prodigious job in winning the confidence of farmers in the effectiveness and practicability of soil conservation. Page 22.
The principle of using combinations of coordinated skills or techniques of sound agriculture is part of the basic concept of permanent soil conservation—or modern soil conservation as it is sometimes called. Page 25.
... ours was a new type of program in which success depended on making use of all available and effective measures of control, singly or in combination, as needed in order to establish durable conservation on all the land. Page 25.
I consider the soil conservation districts movement one of the most important developments in the whole history of agriculture. Page 28.
Every additional gallon of water that can be stored in the soil through the use of conservation measures means one gallon less contributed to flood flows. Page 37.
We cannot depend on windshield surveys and office planning to carry out a job of the complexity and magnitude of safeguarding our farmland and controlling floods. Page 38-39.
As a nation we will conserve our productive land and use it prudently only if there is sustained public demand for such a course of action. Page 44.
If you will take the trouble to ascertain the facts about our farmland—and other natural resources—and then lend your support to our conservation program we will get results and hold on to them. To stand by silently will not help. Page 44.
Man has been so occupied with his business, professional, and industrial affairs that these and other chapters in the history of land have been generally overlooked until recently. Page 44.
A prosperous and enduring agriculture depends on an adequate supply of productive land, properly used and so protected from erosion that it will remain permanently productive. Page 46.
In my judgment, complacency with respect to the security and sufficiency of our land is what we have most to fear. Page 48.
Carrying out an effective nationwide soil conservation program is not a simple matter in a large country of diversified characteristics and interests. Page 48.
From every conceivable angle—economic, social, cultural, public health, national defense—conservation of natural resources is an objective on which all should agree. Page 50.
Public interest in making the wisest possible use of a nation's natural recourses is, in a sense, of greater importance than the individual's interest—if that is of any significance. Actually, both are tied together in such a completely complementary way, there is no point in pursuing the subject beyond indicating that no man should have the right legally or otherwise, to recklessly or willfully destroy or unnecessarily waste any resources on which public welfare is dependent. Page 50.
Our American experience, however, has apparently developed a majority feeling to the effect that our soil conservation effort should, insofar as security permits, proceed along lines of cooperative action, without the use of compulsion at any point, at least not until there has been time for adequate education and farmer response. Page 50.
Farmers have only temporary control over their land. It can be theirs for a lifetime and no longer. The public's interest, however, goes on and on, endlessly, if nations are to endure.... Page 51.
Deficiencies in the farmer's temporary stewardship over the land or in the public's permanent interest in the land are very likely to contribute to soil impoverishment. Page 51.

The following quotes are from: Hugh Hammond Bennett. Soil Conservation. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1939.

Out of the long list of nature's gifts to man, none is perhaps so utterly essential to human life as soil. Page 5.
National action may be led and aided by government, but the soil must be conserved ultimately by those who till the land and live by its products. Page 15.
In this democracy, national action to conserve soil must be generated by these millions of land users. If they are active and willing participants in such a movement, it will endure; otherwise it will fail. Page 313.
National conservation action must spring from people on the land, and to a large extent, be advanced by them as individuals, with the help of government. Page 314.
Unless the United States goes ahead vigorously, persistently, and speedily to defend and conserve the soil and to make far-reaching adjustments in its complex land economy, national decadence lies ahead." Page 337.
Today, we are simply retracing our steps across the land in an effort to correct past mistakes in the interest of the future. Page 337.
(George) Washington informed his overseer in 1795 that immediate profit was not so much an objective as the bringing of worn-out and gullied fields into condition to produce grass." Page 506.

The following quotes are from: Hugh H. Bennett. "Soil Conservation in the World Ahead." Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2 (January 1947): 43-50.

Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.... Page 45.
What a frightful lack of foresight, and what terribly false economy it would be, if we did not go ahead with the soil conservation job! Page 47.