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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition Integrated nutrient supply The moon and agriculture

The moon and agriculture

Written by Hans Carlier

The moon has always exercised a magical attraction on us. The moon, which sets enormous masses of water in motion and so causes ebb and flood in the sea. It is also common knowledge that the menstrual cycle in woman keeps pace with the lunar cycle. Above all other planets, the moon is the most apprehensible and most farmers throughout the world take the moon into account in their work, consciously or unconsciously.

ILEIA Newsletter • 3.1 • May 1987

The moon and agriculture

Hans Carlier


The moon has always exercised a magical attraction on us. The moon, which sets enormous masses of water in motion and so causes ebb and flood in the sea. It is also common knowledge that the menstrual cycle in woman keeps pace with the lunar cycle. Above all other planets, the moon is the most apprehensible and most farmers throughout the world take the moon into account in their work, consciously or unconsciously.

The moon indeed became less magical when man went for a walk on it. But the moon’s influence on the earth was not diminished. The moon tugs at all the fluids on earth and in so doing exercises a strong influence on man, animal and plant.

Just what is the moon\'s influence on agriculture? During my stay in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador we did some research into the subject. The knowledge of 25 farmers and their wives was collected and processed into a calendar for the district. This publication, so illustrative of farmers\' wisdom, did not merely stimulate the population to discuss the value of their culture, but also students and development workers paid more attention to this form of farming science.

In Ecuador it is the general custom not to till the soil, plant seed, and weed and not to harvest crops at the time of the New Moon and seven days thereafter. Experience teaches that this period stimulates maize, potatoes, beans, and even wheat and other cereals to a growth spurt. Despite this spurt the plant hardly comes to the point of forming fruit or tuber.

Furthermore, the plants remain weak and in consequence sensitive to diseases and pests. The plants are easily blown down by a moderate wind. The farmers claim that tilling the soil at New Moon increases attack from larvae. And if the harvest is gathered at the New Moon it is liable to be attacked from storage pests. Furthermore, potatoes and fruit do not keep well.

The same is true of bananas. The advice of Ecuadorian farmers is, never plant at New Moon. For in spite of the growth spurt you get only small fruit and the tree soon deteriorates. The New Moon period is used to treat animals with vermicides because the parasites are most active at that time. Sheep are sheared during the first quarter. The new fleece grows quickly at that time and becomes long and sturdy. If one shears when the moon is new or full one may count on a great deal of trouble with springy, curly wool that grows only slowly. Trees, according to the farmers in the Andes, must never be felled at the New Moon, or the wood will be infested with woodworm. This holds true for bamboos and lianas, used in the area for roofing houses. Finally, to obtain straight trunks that do not readily fall, they advised planting trees in the period between 7 days after the New Moon and before Full Moon.

There is enough here to make one think. A people dependent on nature for survival has gained experience of the forces of nature in the course of time. The more I talk with practical people about their centuries\' old traditions, the more I become aware of the enormous distance between science and practice.

Under pressure of modernization, such peasant wisdom has practically disappeared in Europe and is hardly to be found in books. Fortunately there are still many places on earth where we can consult the local people when we are looking for \'low external-input\' ecological alternatives.

Appeal

Who can help us, ILEIA Newsletter readers, with information on the influence of the moon on agriculture? References to literature with the address of the publisher are also very welcome.
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