Know Your History: George Washington Carver

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George Washington Carver (by January 1864– January 5, 1943), was an American scientistbotanisteducator, and inventor. The exact day and year of his birth are unknown; he is believed to have been born into slavery in Missouri in January 1864.[1]

George Washington Carver developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton. Together with other agricultural experts, he urged farmers to restore nitrogen to their soils by practicing systematic crop rotation: alternating cotton crops with plantings of sweet potatoes or legumes (such as peanutssoybeans andcowpeas). These both restored nitrogen to the soil and the crops were good for human consumption. Following the crop rotation practice resulted in improved cotton yields and gave farmers alternative cash crops. To train farmers to successfully rotate and cultivate the new crops, Carver developed an agricultural extension program for Alabama that was similar to the one at Iowa State. To encourage better nutrition in the South, he widely distributed recipes using the alternative crops.

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