Albert Howard

Sir Albert Howard-The Father of Organic Agriculture

Sir Albert Howard (8 December 1873 – 20 October 1947) was the World’s Father of Organic Agriculture. He was a plant scientist born in Shropshire, England on December 8, 1873. Because of his interest in the world of plants and biology, he later learned a lot about Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, England. In addition, he also obtained a diploma in agriculture (Agriculture Diploma) in 1897 at the same university.

Sir Albert Howard-The Father of Organic Agriculture- Part-2

Much of his career has been spent as a researcher, advisor, and lecturer in various institutions and government organizations. In 1894, he taught agricultural science at Harrison College, Barbados, North America. In 1902, he became a lecturer and team of experts on fungal pathogens and agriculture at the Imperial Department of Agriculture for the West Indies in Barbados, North America. This institution also played a role in overseeing the research and development of agriculture and horticulture in the West Indies (Colonial countries) at that time. From 1903 to 1905, he was appointed a botanist at the South-Eastern Agricultural College, Wye, Kent, England. From 1905 to 1924, he was a botanist at the Imperial Economic Botanist to the Government of India in India. During 1924 to 1931, Albert Howard was director of the Institute of Plant Industry in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, and was an agricultural advisor to the Central States of India and Rajputana.

For his contribution, he has won various awards and achievements. In 1920, he received a silver medal from The Royal Society of Arts (RSA). The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA) is a London-based organization committed to problem-solving and striving to provide real solutions to social problems. In 1930, he received the Barclay Memorial Medal of that society and became an Honourable Fellow of the Imperial College of Science in 1935.

Sir Albert Howard-The Father of Organic Agriculture- Organic Letter

Throughout his career in organic farming, Albert Howard has spent much of his time, energy, and thoughts in India. He worked a lot with Gabrielle Matthaei who later became his wife. They both promote organic farming in India by supporting Indian local wisdom while still relying on scientific aspects. He combined local wisdom with agricultural technology at that time. During his travels and work in India, he received many values and knowledge in agricultural development which would later be widely applied in western agriculture. One important aspect is that there is a link between soil health and the health of villagers, livestock, and plants that support each other.

Albert Howard is considered the father of modern composting techniques, which are related to innovations and modifications of the traditional composting system known as the Indore method of composting. He also struggled a lot in the field of soil fertility. Many research and scientific publications have been produced related to the composting system. Some of his research results have been published in the United Kingdom-based Soil Association and the Rodale Institute in the US. Rodale Institute is a non-profit organization based in the United States that supports research related to organic farming.

Sir Albert Howard-The Father of Organic Agriculture- Some of Publications
Some of Albert Howard Books

Some of his books have also become references for several agricultural researchers and academics related to organic farming. “An Agricultural Testament” is one of the classic books on organic agriculture that emphasizes the management of humus, maintaining the water content (moisture) in the soil, and the role of mycorrhizae. This book is one of the most popular agricultural books. Then a book entitled The Waste Products of Agriculture, which is his result of 26 years of research in India related to increasing crop production in the Indian agricultural environment. This book is considered one of the most important publications in the world of agriculture. His book, Farming, and Gardening for Health or Disease (1945), which was later republished in 1947 under the title The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture, is also considered influential in the development of organic agriculture. In addition to the above publications, there are several other scientific journal publications that have been published by Albert Howard:

  • Howard, A. and Howard, G. L. C. 1907. Note on Immune Wheats. The Journal of Agricultural Science, Cambridge University Press, 2(3), pp. 278–280.
  • Howard, A., Gabrielle, L.C., K. Abdur Rahman. 1910.The economic significance of natural cross-fertilization in India, India Dept. of Agriculture. Memoirs. Botanical series, III, (No.6) Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co.; London: W. Thacker & Co. (Published for the Imperial Department of Agriculture in India; Calcutta). Listing at Open Library
  • Howard, A.1921.The Influence of Soil Factors on Disease Resistance. Annals of Applied Biology 7 (4): 373–389. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348. 1921.tb05525.
  • Howard, A.1925. The Effect of Grass on Trees. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 97 (683): 284–321, Bibcode:1925RSPSB…97.284H, doi:10.1098/rspb.1925.0003, JSTOR 81054
  • Howard, A., Gabrielle L.C.1929.The Development of Indian Agriculture. Nature, India of Today (2nd ed.), London: Humphrey Milford and Oxford University Press, Vol. VIII (3053): 698, Bibcode:1928Natur. 121..698C, doi:10.1038/121698a0, retrieved 9 August 2010
  • Howard, A. Wad Yeshwant.D.1931. The Waste Products of Agriculture: Their Utilization as Humus, Oxford: Humphrey Milford & Oxford University Press, retrieved 9 August 2010[a]
  • Howard, A.1936. Manufacture of Humus by the Indore Process. Nature 137 (3461): 363, Bibcode:1936Natur. 137..363H, doi:10.1038/137363b0, S2CID 4097403
  • Bernard, G., A. Howard., G.T. Wrench.1939. Address to a Meeting of the Farmers. Club Journal of the Farmers’ Club, Discussion held at the Royal Empire Society, Craven Street, W.C.2, on Monday 30 January 1939 (Part 1)
  • Howard, A.1939. Medical Testament on Nutrition (correspondence concerning the Cheshire Medical Testament on Nutrition). British Medical Journal, 1 (4090): 1106, doi:10.1136/bmj.1.4090.1106, PMC 2209719.
  • Howard, A.1939. Medical Testament” on Nutrition (correspondence). British Medical Journal, 2 (4099): 251, doi:10.1136/bmj.2.4099.251, PMC 2209719
  • Howard, A.1943. An Agricultural Testament. Nature, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 147 (3733): 590–591, Bibcode:1941Natur. 147..590W, doi:10.1038/147590a0, archived (PDF) from the original on 2 July 2010, retrieved 9 August 2010 pdf per Special Rodale Press Edition, 1976.
  • Howard, A., Louise.E.1945. Farming and Gardening for Health or Disease, (Subsequently published as The Soil and Health), London: Faber and Faber Ltd, retrieved 10 August 2010
  • Howard, A.1945. “Introduction (Howard on earthworms), The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observation on their Habits. London: Faber and Faber.  

During his life together with Rudolf Steiner, Sir Robert McCarrison and Richard St. Barbe Baker pioneered the organic farming movement. Related to the many research and innovations in the field of organic agriculture. Many scientists consider him as one of the influential figures in agriculture, especially organic farming.

Bibliography-Sir Albert Howard-The Father of Organic Agriculture

Addison, K. 2020. Albert Howard. Accessed from On August 22, 2020

Wikipedia. 2020. Albert Howard. Accessed via On August 22, 2020.

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