The Soil Will Save Us

For Christmas this year my mom bought be some books about soil. The one I finished first is called “The Soil Will Save Us” by Kristin Ohlson. Its about soil, farming, ecology, and global warming but it was so absorbing I read it like a novel; straight through from beginning to end.

One of my biggest problems with books about efforts to help the planet or even just problems people face is that often writers get mired in the problem. They look at it so hard that it looks impossible to solve. When problems look impossible I find myself becoming depressed and my brain shuts off, and without my brain functioning I become a passive lump. Lots of people don’t seem to have this problem, impossible odds seems to make them even more determined to surpass them. I’m sure that those people will look at this book and think it portrays a Pollyanna look at the problems our planet faces when it comes to climate change, but I personally felt that it hit just the right note.

She had a wonderful chapter about how soil, microbes, plants and all subsequent life developed. I really felt like I grasped it after I read it. Knowing how the soil web works really helped me understand how conventional farming practices are hurting the soil in a way that all other books tackling the subject of the ill effects of conventional farming just didn’t. After she showed how important the soil was she started talking about the people who are trying to fix it and understand it.

What is going on in the soil health sector is amazing, and surprising. Many of the things that she talks about science understanding about soil, flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I was happy to learn that research into organic and holistic farming shows that they produce more food per acre than conventional farming practices, which completely blows the  argument that organics are not going to be able to keep up with market demand, out of the water.

I was also amazed to hear how fast some farmers can build up good soil and the tricks that they use to do it. Farmers are proving that used judiciously running cows and other ruminates through grasslands can be better for growing plants and soil than almost any other practice of farming. I loved hearing how ranchers and environmentalists are starting to gang together as the intricacies of how ecosystems work is better understood.

All in all an informational and uplifting read.

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