The Nongshuo 農說 “Explanations to farming” is a treatise on agriculture written by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Ma Yilong 馬一龍 (1490-1562), courtesy name Ma Futu 馬負圖 or Ma Yingtu 馬應圖, style Menghe 孟河. He came from Liyang 溧陽, Jiangsu, and obtained the jinshi degree in 1547. His highest office was that of director of studies (siye 司業) of the Directorate of Education (guozijian 國子監). After his retirement he lived as a peasant and so personally experienced the hardships of the common people. Because the average farmer was unable to express his thoughts, Ma Yilong saw himself as the people’s representant and wrote his book.
The short text Nongshu is a philosophical interpretation of the work of ploughing, with a slight tough of criticism towards the class of literati who talked about agriculture without knowing how to do it. Some parts of the text are written somewhat obscure, so that the author himself added comments to his own text. The book was very widespread and is to be found in a lot of reprint series, like Jujia bibei 居家必備, Guang baichuan xuehai 廣百川學海, Shuofu xu 說郛續, Ershierzi quanshu 二十二子全書, Wushiwanjuanlou jiucang 五十萬卷樓舊藏 and Congshu jicheng 叢書集成.
Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1648. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.