An optimistic look at how regenerative farming can revive the world’s soil, increasing food production, boosting cost effectiveness, and slowing climate change.
For decades, big agribusiness has promoted quick-and-dirty farming practices that have profoundly worsened the health of the planet’s agricultural land, a cycle enabled by the use of herbicides and pesticides. As a result, farmers across the world are seeing their efforts yield smaller crops and falling profits—never mind the environmental impact. Yet an often cited myth is that industrialized agriculture is the only option to keep up with a rapidly growing population. MacArthur Fellow Montgomery (Geomorphology/Univ. of Washington; The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood, 2012, etc.) combines decades of rigorous scientific research and firsthand experience to demonstrate that a common-sense, biology-based approach to maintaining soil health is key to reversing degradation. Importantly, the author emphasizes that such regeneration is not only possible, it’s within reach for farms of any size and in any climate. In a compelling writing style that is more conversational than scientific, Montgomery recounts trips around the globe where he met the pioneering farmers embracing the soil health movement. Through their successes, the author elegantly connects the dots among no-till planting, the use of cover crops, letting cows graze, and other practices that have shown almost universal success in allowing farmers to dramatically increase crop yields and lessen the need for chemical additives. These practices also reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. A wide-scale move toward regenerating soil health would truly revolutionize what we eat and who has access to it, and while nothing can happen overnight—especially when government subsidies reward farming practices supporting the status quo—the author is confident that change is afoot and that the future will be bright and green.
Montgomery’s fascinating exposé of how our food is grown will convince readers that soil health should not remain an under-the-radar issue and that we all benefit from embracing a new philosophy of farming.