The visits of US fertility experts, Dr Arden Andersen and Dr Phil Wheeler, to Australia have generated tremendous interest in their unique approach to high-production, sustainable agriculture. Both consultants describe themselves as exponents of the Reams/Albrecht/Callahan approach to fertility management. The triumvirate to whom they refer comprises Dr Carey Reams, Dr William Albrecht and Dr Philip Callahan. These three pioneers are central figures in what has become the most powerful sustainable push in late 20th century agriculture. Alternative agriculture has never sailed so close to the mainstream. Vested interests have always successfully contained and controlled what they have regarded as “organic fringe dwellers”, but a burgeoning grassroots movement, led by conventional growers, appears to be changing this power base. The Reams / Albrecht / Callahan approach seems destined to become a major force in 21st century agriculture, and in this context it is important that we consider and evaluate the work of these pioneers.
The late Dr Carey Reams is the least known of the three, but he was responsible for a series of remarkable breakthroughs, the most important of which was his discovery of an irrefutable link between nutritional imbalance, weed infestation and pest / disease resistance.
THE RENEGADE PHYSICIAN
Dr Carey Reams was both a physician and an agronomist. His medical degree, completed in England, included an undergraduate degree in chemistry. Upon returning to the US to practice medicine, Reams chose to retain his independence by avoiding membership of the AMA (American Medical Association), and this infamous establishment bastion would eventually secure their pound of flesh for Reams’ “disrespect”. Dr Reams was dogged throughout his life by the medical authorities objecting to his use of nutritional healing and nutrition-based, preventative medicine. His simple approach could successfully cure several major diseases, but his rebuttal of drug-based mainstream medicine eventually culminated in a Californian jail term during his later years.
A life-changing experience appears to have had a formative influence on the passionate mission that was to become Reams’ life work. During World War II Reams enlisted in the US army as a chemist and Officer with the Special Operations Branch, and soon after he was severely injured in a landmine explosion. He suffered serious spinal injuries that left him a quadriplegic. After the war his recovery did not progress as hoped, and he deteriorated to the point that he was considered to be close to death. At this point, in desperation, he travelled to Philadelphia to attend a Katherine Kumen faith healing service. The service, later documented in Katherine Kumen’s book, apparently produced a miraculous cure for Reams, and he was able to walk and function normally. Dr Reams’ subsequent conversion to Christianity would greatly influence his later work. He now came to see nature as both divinely ordered and holistic. This was in stark contrast to pidgeon-holing, specialist approach of conventional science.
THE BRILLIANT AGRONOMIST
It is a fact that a shining intellect can often be apparent at an early age, and Reams’ genius shone through from the outset. During his childhood on the family farm in Florida, his intuitive and practical understanding of plant growth became legendary. It has been said that his father entrusted him with sole responsibility for a significant growing area when he was just five years old. He devised a fertility program, organised labour and apparently produced an exceptional melon crop at that tender age.
Little is known of Reams’ youth and early medical career. It was only after his injury and subsequent surprise-recovery that he really began to make his presence felt. His dual professions as an agricultural consultant and physician contributed to his understanding of a link between human health and soil health, and he began to develop a relationship with the leading researchers in this field – Dr Charles Northern and Dr William Albrecht.
Dr Charles Northern was a gastro-enterologist who, in 1936, presented congress with findings supporting the concept that human health problems are directly related to the mineral depletion of our soils. Reams worked with Dr Northern’s concepts and fused them with the ideas of Dr William Albrecht, with whom he frequently corresponded. Combining these ideas with his own concepts, he set to work as a consultant in the South Eastern US, where he demonstrated the efficacy of these principles. Reams’ clients grew exceptional, high-yielding crops with increasing nutrient density, but, most importantly, these crops were disease-free and resistant to pests.
SOIL HEALTH / HUMAN HEALTH
Dr Reams never really separated his two professions. He developed extensive systems related to both during the 50’s and 60’s. While practicing medicine in Orlando, Florida, he opened a health retreat in Georgia and used this accumulated practical experience and research to develop what he termed the Reams Human Health Equation – a diagnostic and analytical tool based on the testing of urine and saliva. These body fluids were tested with the identical LaMotte soil testing approach, which Reams favoured when evaluating soil health. The test measured energy loss in his patients, and Reams accurately diagnosed specific diseases based upon small reductions in energy loss, without actually seeing his clients.
Dr Reams’ diagnostic skills, using his own techniques, were significantly superior to existing techniques at the time. Apparently this approach can still offer better early-warning, diagnostic precision than current alternatives. This part of the Reams work has been continued by Minnesota-based Dr Joe Manthei, who has translated the original Reams recipes to workbook and tape.
Dr Reams developed his system extensively and had several different clinics around the US, but he still somehow managed to foster his other passion – his agricultural consultancy. During this period, he developed his Biological Theory of Ionisation, which is the centrepiece of his soil-health philosophy. He also perfected the use of a series of monitoring tools, which were to become integral components of his system. These tools included the LaMotte soil test, the refractometer, the conductivity meter and the electronic scanner.
Dr Reams continued to teach agriculture and human health classes through the seventies and eighties, and the validity of his nutrition-enhanced vitality was graphically illustrated in his personal life, when he remarried and fathered a child while in his 80’s.