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New Book Addresses Healing Earth's Soils

A new book, by University of Washington (UW) geologist David R. Montgomery, tries to be upbeat about rebuilding Earth's soils.

The book, "Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life," is a good-news environment story compared to the author's first popular book, "Dirt," which was about how erosion undermined ancient civilizations around the world in places like modern-day Syria and Iraq.

"This new book was my attempt to ask the question: Can soil be restored at scale? On real farms, not in some little yard in Seattle. Could it be done on real, commercial farms in the developed world, as well as on subsistence farms in the developing world?" Montgomery was quoted as saying in a news release from UW.

Available this month, a decade after the first pop-science book, "Growing a Revolution" weaves a travelogue with history and science to tell of visits to farms in North and South Dakota, site of the famous Dust Bowl, as well as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Africa and Costa Rica. These farmers use technology ranging from hand-powered machetes to enormous modern no-till seeding machines.

The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion caused the phenomenon.


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