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Bread from stones by Julius Hensel

Bread from Stones

Can bread be produced from stones?

Today I’m going to take you back to 1893.

That’s when Dr. Julius Hensel published a study on the nutrients that plants need to grow properly.

This study shook up the data up to that point (data that still holds true today).

A fight against fertilizer cartel

Dr. Julius Hensel was fought over his views, views which were in opposition to the chemical fertilizer cartel.

Dr. Julius Hensel opposed Justus von Liebig (a German scientist) who is the father of the theory that plants need three basic ingredients for their growth:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)

These three chemicals are the basis of all the fertilizers we still use in crops and our gardens today.

Justus von Liebig came up with these three chemical elements by analyzing only the seeds of plants.

Julius Hensel carried out similar analyses on plants, but did not limit himself to the seeds. He analyzed the whole plant.

The 3 observations

The reason for this analysis was three observations:

  • Plants grown in soil not previously cultivated are strong, vigorous and very productive.
  • Each subsequent year, the productivity of plants grown in the same soil declines.
  • The addition of N-P-K based chemical fertilizers does not restore the initial soil vigor and therefore the initial productivity of the plants.

By analyzing the whole plant Julius Hensel came to different conclusions.

For example, the proportion of Phosphorus in the whole plant was much lower than what Justus von Liebig found by studying only the seeds.

He also found data not mentioned in Justus von Liebig’s study.

Dr. Julius Hensel argued (remember we are back in 1893) that the use of chemical fertilizers on crops has the following negative effects:

  • They poison the soil by destroying beneficial bacteria, insects and animals.
  • They create diseased, unbalanced plants that cannot withstand disease and pests and thus need chemical insecticides to survive.
  • They favor the spread of disease to humans and animals that feed on these “sick” plants.
  • Farmers are financially ruined as they spend huge amounts of money to enrich the soil with chemical fertilizers that are easily washed away in the rains with irrigation water. Thus they are forced to buy fertilizers again and again.

The 9 nutrients needed by plants according to Dr. Julius Hensel

Dr. Julius Hensel argued that according to his studies, plants need the following nutrients in order to grow properly, to be useful food for humans and animals, and to be resistant to diseases and pests:

  • potassium (potassium)
  • soda (baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, bicarbonate of soda)
  • lime
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • manganese
  • sulphur
  • phosphorus
  • florine

All of the above ingredients are found in rocks that, if added to the soil in the form of powder, will dramatically increase plant health and productivity.

This article, is a humble introduction to the book “Bread from Stones” by Dr. Julius Hensel, which can download and read here.

It is up to each reader to evaluate and adopt or reject Dr. Julius Hensel’s views.


Bread from Stones (PDF)
Julius Hensel
Justus von Liebig


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