Growing a Revolution: bringing our soil back to life
by David R. Montgomery
W. Norton & Company 321 pages
$19.58 hardcover, $11.52 paperback, $9.88 Kindle, $26.29 audio CD
Resilience.org asked me to review this book, probably because I did a multibook review five years ago in which I compared four books on sustainable gardening and farming.
Growing a Revolution, unlike the four books I reviewed then, is not really a how-to book. While it might well be useful to farmers, its primary purpose is to show the many benefits of changed agricultural practices, and it includes talk about policy changes that would be helpful.
Montgomery is a geologist. He has written four previous books, mostly with an ecological theme. Here he looks at what he calls “conservation agriculture,” which really boils down to three principles:
- Do not till the soil.
- Use cover crops or mulch; keep the soil covered.
- Rotate crops.
He takes a global journey, visiting practitioners of this type of farming in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Ghana, Costa Rica, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Their circumstances differed considerably as did their land; what they had in common is that they used all three of these practices. It was several times emphasized that one of these (for example, no-till) would not likely reap the benefits of using all three.
In the first paragraph of the preface, he says, “Since the dawn of agriculture, society after society faded from memory after degrading their soil. But we need not repeat this history on a global scale. For while the problem of soil degradation remains the least recognized of the pressing crises humanity faces, it is also one of the most solvable. Are you ready for an optimistic book about the environment?”
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…