Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

Norton. May 2017. 320p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780393608328. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393608335. SCI
Montgomery (geomorphology, Univ. of Washington; Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations) illustrates how following the three principles of conservation agriculture can prevent soil erosion, create fertile soil in a short period of time, keep soil cooler and moister, minimize pests and diseases, and save farmers money and time through using less fossil fuel and fewer insecticides and herbicides. Conservation agriculture is a "no till" or "low till" method, in which farmers grow cover crops and leave the crop residues on the field while using a sophisticated crop rotation system. Interviewing a wide range of scientists and farmers (those living or working in the Dakotas, Ghana, and Costa Rica, as well as at the organic farm at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania), Montgomery shares their results, from research plots to actual farms. His findings demonstrate that after several years, farmers practicing conservation agriculture achieve the same or better results than those employing conventional techniques, especially during times of drought. He also investigates how livestock manure can fertilize the soil and how biochar can be an important soil amendment.
VERDICT This fascinating, accessible, well-researched work will be of interest to all who are concerned with feeding the world's burgeoning population while protecting the soil and, ultimately, the environment.
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