An innovative agronomist
Olivier de Serres was born in Berg, in the Vivarais region, of a Protestant family that originally came from the city of Orange. During the wars of religion, he dedicated all his efforts to maintaining inter-denominational peace.
His interest in agronomy was so great that he decided to make a model farm of his Pradel estate, and apply methods that were very innovative, such as crop rotation, the sulphuring of vineyards, increased use of new crops (Indian corn, hop, beet, rice, and madder-root).
Henri IV called him to Paris. Olivier de Serres had 20 000 mulberry bushes planted in the Tuileries Gardens ; this helped spread the breeding of silk worms.
His book entitled Théâtre d’agriculture et mesnage des champs – published in 1600 and the first of its kind – reveals not only the extent of his knowledge, but also his spiritual commitment. For Olivier de Serres, tilling the soil was a task inseparable from reflecting on man’s use of it – to the glory of God.
- GOURDIN Henri, Olivier de Serres, science, expérience, diligence en agriculture au temps de Henri IV, Actes Sud, Arles, 2001
- LEQUENNE Fernand, La vie d’Olivier de Serres, Juillard, Paris, 1945
- LEQUENNE Fernand, Olivier de Serres, agronome et soldat de Dieu, Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1983
- SERRES Olivier (de), Le théâtre d’agriculture et mesnage des champs, Slatkine, Genève, 1991