Soil improvers, fertilisers and treatments

The cultivator intervened on the soil by leaving it fallow and improving it by adding substances. The first of these fertilisers was the traditional stable manure that he spread on the fields with a fork. Then came the encouragement of the comices and agricultural unions advocating the use of limestone, silica or green manure and the use of artificial fertilisers with guano and powdered powder in the 1860s and 1880s, followed by chemical fertilisers containing nitrogen, phosphate and potassium from 1900 onwards.

From 1885 onwards, the grower was also able to intervene on the crops to prevent fungal invasions or to treat them curatively with sulphur and copper-based mixtures from 1885 onwards. Until the invention of synthetic insecticide treatments, which appeared in the 1930s, insecticide control was essentially manual or smokeless: weeding, hunting for cockchafer beetles and Colorado potato beetles.

Initially reserved for the wealthiest and most informed, phytosanitary treatments became massive and systematic in the context of increasingly productivist agriculture in the second half of the 20th century.

Illustrations :

– Advertisement for Saint Gobain lime superphosphate in Annales de la Société d’Agriculture de la Dordogne,1874. (©Musée André Voulgre)

– Engraving on the use of a sprayer in the textbook The 1st year of agriculture, Armand Collin & Cie,1899. (©Musée André Voulgre)