We are told that in a teaspoon of soil there may be more organisms than the total number of people on the planet. Who is conducting the count? And what does it mean? To be brutal about it: So what?
We now know that just as biodiversity and balance is important in our agricultural and natural systems and landscapes to keep them healthy and robust, the same processes are vital for our soils. There’s a lot going on down there that deserves a closer look. And even if we can’t see it, a healthy, living soil will grow better plants, be more resilient and improve our agricultural productivity.
So this book is designed to for a twin purpose:
• to make up for the mechanistic approach of 40 years ago—to present a clearer picture of what remained a secret to the uninitiated for so long—to reveal the living, pulsing, teeming world beneath our feet, and
• to help manage our soil resource by understanding that any actions we take will have an impact on soil health.
Managing for Healthy Soils is a must for any farmer, horticulturalist or home gardener. It explains how to class your type of soil, understand the limitations and potential, and manage it sustainably. Soil tests for moisture, water infiltration, pH, soil nutrients, soil texture, soil compaction, structural stability and more will help you understand your soil context.
Chapter 1. What is soil?
Chapter 2. Look at the land. What you will see
Chapter 3. Looking at your soil in profile
Chapter 4. Soil as a living laboratory: finding the right chemistry
Chapter 5. Soil and water
Chapter 6. Soil organic matter
Chapter 7. Soil animals: all creatures great and small
Chapter 8. Managing organisms for agriculture
Chapter 9. Soil carbon
Chapter 10. Managing the risks to soil health
Chapter 11. Managing for healthy soil
Appendix 1. Soil recording sheet
References and further reading
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Brouwer lectured in Agronomy at Tocal College for 15 years before developing a course in Conservation and Land Management for external students. He has run external diploma studies in agriculture and land management for almost 20 years. He has authored and co-authored over 50 books for students as well as running courses in property planning for farmers.
Abigail Jenkins is an expert on soil. She has worked for the NSW Department of Primary Industries since 1997 as an advisor and educator for farmers and government personnel. She creates publications and learning opportunities about soil in agriculture.