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After the Civil War, newly available commercial fertilizers fed the soils of the southern cotton economy. As the largest fertilizer-consuming state in the country in the late nineteenth century, Georgia became the proving ground for America’s emergent fertilizer industry. The shift in agricultural practice from local nutrient cycling to chemical-input agriculture occurred under the assumption that fertilizer would help bring order to a disrupted agricultural economy. Although fertilizers boosted crop yields, adopting fertilizer did not prove to be a cure-all for systemic problems in agricultural production. Fertilizers played a part in exacerbating farm debt, fomenting agrarian political unrest, and in redefining and expanding the role of the state government as Georgia’s legislators created a state-level department of agriculture to regulate fertilizers.