Gabe Brown didn't set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown--in an effort to simply survive--began experimenting with new practices he'd learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture. Brown dropped the use of most of the herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers that are a standard part of conventional agriculture. He switched to no-till planting, started planting diverse cover crops mixes, and changed his grazing practices. In so doing Brown transformed a degraded farm ecosystem into one full of life--starting with the soil and working his way up, one plant and one animal at a time. In Dirt to Soil Gabe Brown tells the story of that amazing journey and offers a wealth of innovative solutions to our most pressing and complex contemporary agricultural challenge--restoring the soil. The Brown's Ranch model, developed over twenty years of experimentation and refinement, focuses on regenerating resources by continuously enhancing the living biology in the soil. Using regenerative agricultural principles, Brown's Ranch has grown several inches of new topsoil in only twenty years! The 5,000-acre ranch profitably produces a wide variety of cash crops and cover crops as well as grass-finished beef and lamb, pastured laying hens, broilers, and pastured pork, all marketed directly to consumers. The key is how we think, Brown says. In the industrial agricultural model, all thoughts are focused on killing things. But that mindset was also killing diversity, soil, and profit, Brown realized. Now he channels his creative thinking toward how he can get more life on the land--more plants, animals, and beneficial insects. "The greatest roadblock to solving a problem," Brown says, "is the human mind."
Ranging from ancient times to modern-day environmental threats, a natural and cultural history of soil explains how an elimination of protective vegetation and an exposure to wind and rain causes severe erosion of cultivated soils, how the use and abuse of soil has shaped human history, and the how the rise of organic and no-till farming holds hope for the future.
Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window! Have you noticed the extraordinary flavors and yields emanating from even a small garden when the soil is just right? If you’ve ever been envious of your neighbor’s dirt or just curious about homesteading, then The Ultimate Guide to Soil is perfect for you. The book begins with a personality test for your soil, then uses that information to plan a course of action for revitalizing poor soil and turning good dirt into great earth. Next, you’ll learn to start and maintain a no-till garden, to balance nutrients with remineralization, and to boost organic matter with easy cover crops. Don’t forget the encyclopedic overview of organic soil amendments at the end. Old standbys like manures and mulches are explained in depth along with less common additions such as bokashi compost and castings from worms and black soldier fly larvae. Learn when hugelkultur, biochar, paper, and cardboard do and don’t match your garden needs, then read about when and how to safely use urine and humanure around edible plantings. With an emphasis on simple techniques suitable for the backyard gardener, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you! This ebook includes the complete text of Personality Tests for Your Soil, Small-Scale No-Till Gardening Basics, Balancing Soil Nutrients and Acidity, and Soil Amendments for the Organic Garden.
Grade-schoolers learn how ants, snails, slugs, beetles, earthworms, spiders, and other subterranean creatures live, breed, interact, move about, defend themselves, and more.
Leonardo da Vinci once mused that “we know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot,” an observation that is as apt today as it was five hundred years ago. The biological world under our toes is often unexplored and unappreciated, yet it teems with life. In one square meter of earth, there lives trillions of bacteria, millions of nematodes, hundreds of thousands of mites, thousands of insects and worms, and hundreds of snails and slugs. But because of their location and size, many of these creatures are as unfamiliar and bizarre to us as anything found at the bottom of the ocean. Lavishly illustrated with nearly three hundred color illustrations and masterfully-rendered black and white drawings throughout, Life in the Soil invites naturalists and gardeners alike to dig in and discover the diverse community of creatures living in the dirt below us. Biologist and acclaimed natural history artist James B. Nardibegins with an introduction to soil ecosystems, revealing the unseen labors of underground organisms maintaining the rich fertility of the earth as they recycle nutrients between the living and mineral worlds. He then introduces readers to a dazzling array of creatures: wolf spiders with glowing red eyes, snails with 120 rows of teeth, and 10,000-year-old fungi, among others. Organized by taxon, Life in the Soil covers everything from slime molds and roundworms to woodlice and dung beetles, as well as vertebrates from salamanders to shrews. The book ultimately explores the crucial role of soil ecosystems in conserving the worlds above and below ground. A unique and illustrative introduction to the many unheralded creatures that inhabit our soils and shape our environment aboveground, Life in the Soil will inform and enrich the naturalist in all of us.
Describes the different types of soil, its purposes, and why soil is so important to all living things.
A MacArthur Fellow’s impassioned call to make agriculture sustainable by ditching the plow, covering the soil, and diversifying crop rotations. The problem of agriculture is as old as civilization. Throughout history, great societies that abused their land withered into poverty or disappeared entirely. Now we risk repeating this ancient story on a global scale due to ongoing soil degradation, a changing climate, and a rising population. But there is reason for hope. David R. Montgomery introduces us to farmers around the world at the heart of a brewing soil health revolution that could bring humanity’s ailing soil back to life remarkably fast. Growing a Revolution draws on visits to farms in the industrialized world and developing world to show that a new combination of farming practices can deliver innovative, cost-effective solutions to problems farmers face today. Cutting through standard debates about conventional and organic farming, Montgomery explores why practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture help restore soil health and fertility. Farmers he visited found it both possible and profitable to stop plowing up the soil and blanketing fields with chemicals. Montgomery finds that the combination of no-till planting, cover crops, and diverse crop rotations provides the essential recipe to rebuild soil organic matter. Farmers using these unconventional practices cultivate beneficial soil life, smother weeds, and suppress pests while relying on far less, if any, fertilizer and pesticides. These practices are good for farmers and the environment. Using less fossil fuel and agrochemicals while maintaining crop yields helps farmers with their bottom line. Regenerative practices also translate into farms that use less water, generate less pollution, lower carbon emissions—and stash an impressive amount of carbon underground. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Growing a Revolution lays out a solid case for an inspiring vision where agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems, helping feed us all, cool the planet, and restore life to the land.
Discusses the nature, uses, and importance of soil and the many forms of life that it supports.
If you want methods that won't break your back, are good for the environment, and create high-yielding, beautiful gardens of all shapes and sizes, this is the book for you!
From two of the world’s top scientists and one of the world’s top science writers (all parents), Dirt Is Good is a q&a-based guide to everything you need to know about kids & germs. “Is it OK for my child to eat dirt?” That’s just one of the many questions authors Jack Gilbert and Rob Knight are bombarded with every week from parents all over the world. They've heard everything from “My two-year-old gets constant ear infections. Should I give her antibiotics? Or probiotics?” to “I heard that my son’s asthma was caused by a lack of microbial exposure. Is this true, and if so what can I do about it now?” Google these questions, and you’ll be overwhelmed with answers. The internet is rife with speculation and misinformation about the risks and benefits of what most parents think of as simply germs, but which scientists now call the microbiome: the combined activity of all the tiny organisms inside our bodies and the surrounding environment that have an enormous impact on our health and well-being. Who better to turn to for answers than Drs. Gilbert and Knight, two of the top scientists leading the investigation into the microbiome—an investigation that is producing fascinating discoveries and bringing answers to parents who want to do the best for their young children. Dirt Is Good is a comprehensive, authoritative, accessible guide you've been searching for.
Have you ever wondered what happens in the earth underneath us? James has, and he wants to learn more about soil. In Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground, James discovers that soil is not just dirt for digging in. He explores how plants and animals live in soil, how soils are formed, how they differ, and the ways that soil is essential in our lives. Written by Samantha Grover, a soil scientist and parent, and with engaging illustrations by artist Camille Heisler, Exploring Soils will take you to an underground world filled with activity and discoveries. Perfect for ages 6 – 9.
The liquid phase of soil (soil solution) is a very thin, penetrating and all-embracing water layer. It has the most extensive surface among the biosphere components and interacts with all these components. Presented in this work is a new complex approach developed for soil liquid phase investigation that is based on in situ measurements. Investigation of the soil liquid phase can be of great significance in environmental research. This volume sums up the vast experience of the authors' research into soil liquid phase composition in various ecosystems of Central and Eastern Europe. It describes the methodological basics of soil liquid phase research: methods of soil solution extraction, the main problems of application of ion-selective electrodes for immediate in situ assessment of ionic activity in soil liquid phase and redox potential, and ways to overcome those problems. Data are presented on soil liquid phase composition in natural and agricultural ecosystems, their redox, pH, carbonate and other regimes as well as the relations between the composition of the soil liquid phase and different ecological properties. This work is devoted to the pursuit of new approaches to soil liquid phase analysis with a goal of discovering the role of soil liquid phase in the functioning of natural and agricultural ecosystems in recent soil-formation, formation of primary biological production, and in bio-geochemical turnover of elements. It includes new field investigation data as well as all data generalization carried out by means of a special complex database (developed by the authors) on soil liquid phase composition and other soil-ecological properties in various ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe. This book is the first English edition that integrally considers both methodological aspects and results of investigation of composition, formation, dynamics, spatial heterogeneity, and interrelations of soil liquid phase with other components of ecosystems. Soil scientists, agricultural chemists and ecologists will find this title of great interest.
"In this book, readers learn what the difference is between dirt and soil."--
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices—and, especially, modern industrial agriculture—have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world's soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for "our great green hope"—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming. As the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of avid gardeners, Ohlson has long had an appreciation for the soil. A chance conversation with a local chef led her to the crossroads of science, farming, food, and environmentalism and the discovery of the only significant way to remove carbon dioxide from the air—an ecological approach that tends not only to plants and animals but also to the vast population of underground microorganisms that fix carbon in the soil. Ohlson introduces the visionaries—scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers—who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change. Her discoveries and vivid storytelling will revolutionize the way we think about our food, our landscapes, our plants, and our relationship to Earth.
A Soil Owner's Manual: Restoring and Maintaining Soil Health, is about restoring the capacity of your soil to perform all the functions it was intended to perform. This book is not another fanciful guide on how to continuously manipulate and amend your soil to try and keep it productive. This book will change the way you think about and manage your soil. It may even change your life. If you are interested in solving the problem of dysfunctional soil and successfully addressing the symptoms of soil erosion, water runoff, nutrient deficiencies, compaction, soil crusting, weeds, insect pests, plant diseases, and water pollution, or simply wish to grow healthy vegetables in your family garden, then this book is for you. Soil health pioneer Jon Stika, describes in simple terms how you can bring your soil back to its full productive potential by understanding and applying the principles that built your soil in the first place. Understanding how the soil functions is critical to reducing the reliance on expensive inputs to maintain yields. Working with, instead of against, the processes that naturally govern the soil can increase profitability and restore the soil to health. Restoring soil health can proactively solve natural resource issues before regulations are imposed that will merely address the symptoms. This book will lead you through the basic biology and guiding principles that will allow you to assess and restore your soil. It is part of a movement currently underway in agriculture that is working to restore what has been lost. A Soil Owner's Manual: Restoring and Maintaining Soil Health will give you the opportunity to be part of this movement. Restoring soil health is restoring hope in the future of agriculture, from large farm fields and pastures, down to your own vegetable or flower garden.
Rainfall levels are rarely optimal, but there are hundreds of things you can do to efficiently conserve and use the water you do have and to reduce the impact of drought on your soil, crops, livestock, and farm or ranch ecosystem. Author Dale Strickler introduces you to the same innovative systems he used to transform his own drought-stricken family farm in Kansas into a thriving, water-wise, and profitable enterprise, maximizing healthy cropland, pasture, and water supply. Ranging from simple, short-term projects such as installing rain-collection ollas to long-term land-management planning strategies, Strickler’s methods show how to get more water into the soil, keep it in the soil, and help plants and livestock access it.
Aflatoxin contamination represents a serious threat to a healthy food supply. Resulting from mold on corn, peanuts, and other grains and grain products, aflatoxins are extremely toxic. Understanding the nature of fungi infection and the factors that favor aflatoxin formation is important to grain producers, dealers, and other professionals who control grain from the field to the site of consumption to prevent serious loss of large quantities of grain or grain products. Producers of poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, and even pet food need to be aware of the threat of aflatoxin. Participants in the grain industry who grow, store, or process corn and other grains subject to potential infection by aflatoxin should be aware of the risks of fungal infection and aflatoxin contamination, and proper management strategies. The authors focus on the binding of aflatoxin in animal feeds by employing calcium smectite. Readers will be especially glad to know that aflatoxin can often be controlled with a natural mineral material to bind aflatoxin in animal feeds at a modest cost.--Back cover.
Almost a half-century ago, André Voisin had already grasped the importance of elements of the soil and their effects on plants, and ultimately, animal and human life. He saw the hidden danger in the gross oversimplification of fertilization practices that use harsh chemicals and ignore the delicate balance of trace minerals and nutrients in the soil. In this volume Voisin issues a call to stand up and acknowledge our responsibilities for public health and protective medicine ¿ part of a concerted attempt to remove the causes of ill health, disease and, in particular, cancer.
This is perhaps the first book to be written in praise of weeds. According to Joseph Cocannouer, weeds perform the following valuable services among others: 1. They bring minerals and make them available to crops. 2. When used in crop rotation they crop roots to feed deeply. 3. They fiberize and condition the soil make any soil productive. 4. They are good indicators of soil condition. 5. Weeds are deep divers and feeders they enable crops to withstand drought better. 6. As companion crops they enable our domesticated plants to get unavailable food. 7. Weeds store up minerals and nutrients and keep them readily available. 8. Weeds make good eating. No, Professor Cocannouer does not believe that weeds should be allowed to go rampant and take over our farms and gardens. The function of this book is to demonstrate how the controlled use of weeds can be sound ecology, good conservation and a boon to the average farmer or gardener. (From the Introduction) Get Your Copy Today!
This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress, and economic instability? The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals. Scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible? Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy. Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food. In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.