I was taught in soils class in college that it was impractical on an economic level to make soil better. I was told that it took a thousand years to build an inch of soil, and at best we could only hope to slow the destruction of our planet’s soil. What a depressing world view!
Luckily, we have the knowledge and technology to fix our degraded soils. It does not take centuries as we once thought; in this book there are numerous examples of soil being restored in less than a decade to contain twice its original organic matter content. I myself purchased a farm in the year 2000 and began the process of soil restoration in earnest in 2006. When I started, the organic matter on this property was 1.9%; by the time I sold the property in 2020 it had climbed to an astounding 8.7%! For a frame of reference, virgin prairie soil that has never been plowed in my area runs about 6% organic matter.
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Restoring Your Soil
This book contains the blueprints for restoring our degraded soils. It begins with the principles of soil development like improving gaseous exchange in soil, optimizing mineral fertility, increasing microbial biomass, maximizing the capture of solar energy through photosynthesis, and capturing and storing rainfall. Then it follows with the nuts and bolts of practical methods of soil building, such as no-till farming, cover crops, grazing management, crop rotation and agroforestry. Finally, there is a peek at innovative agricultural systems of the past, the present and perhaps the future, such as the chinampas of ancient Mexico and the stone terraced farms of ancient Peru, that may hold promise for farming in a post-fossil fuel world.
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