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.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove P.L., IL
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.
A wonderful read on how to make soil rich and prosperous!
Montgomery has written another classic. Growing a Revolution is one of the most important books ever writtenan engaging and revealing service to human society and our planet.”
Growing a Revolution presents a clear-eyed examination of a solution to the challenges we face in feeding the world. A joy to read with the bounce and flow of a great biography. I couldn’t recommend it more.”
From Plato to FDR, from George Washington to Gabe Brown, Montgomery shows how all roads lead to the soiland the potential it holds to redress some of our greatest challenges in the twenty-first century.
Loved the book! Ambitious and thought-provoking. A fascinating, thoughtful, and hopeful adventure.
The insights gleaned add nuance to [Montgomery’s] pointed critiques of agrotechnology and organic farming, but it’s the findings on rapid soil restoration that compel.
"Montgomery's fascinating expos 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." Kirkus
In his reader-friendly style, Montgomery describes the environmental crossroads at which we stand, and shows us not only the devastation, but the potential solution, that exists right beneath our feet.
In the past couple of years, an awful lot of smart people have started talking very seriously about the state of the planet’s soil. If you want to understand what’s at stake, and learn about the exciting possibilities, this book is a fine starting point.
This is a Sand County Almanac of agriculture, a Walden Pond of loam and tilth, a paradigm-bending journey into the principles that guide the life beneath our feet and thus the life that nourishes us.
Brilliant, well researched, eloquent, and deeply hopeful.
Montgomery has the rare talent of making complex scientific topics not only understandable but truly fascinating. Growing a Revolution is both exceptionally enlightening and tremendously enjoyable. Highly recommended reading.”
Being a long time ‘doom bat’ regarding the fate of the natural world, Growing a Revolution gave me hope that there is a real possibility of revolutionizing agriculture with the result of growing more food, employing people, and putting carbon back into the ground.”