The latest trendy capital improvements in farming include items like GPS-guided tractors and aerial photography drones, but a University of Washington scientist says farmers get their biggest return on investment from something much more down to earth: soil improvement.
“Soil health is the best infrastructure investment the world has to offer,” said David Montgomery, a professor of geomorphology, which is the study of the earth’s surface. And he’s optimistic about the future of farming, as a result.
“Almost all of our food comes from the soil. We see a declining volume of farmland from urbanization and development, a history of losing soil to erosion and weathering. Better farming practices, the kind that build soils, is the direction that responsible public policy would take us.”
Montgomery has spent the last few years digging into the soil of farms in the U. S., Canada, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Ghana. The “global listening tour,” as he calls it, looked at differences in soil quality among neighboring farms around the world. He found that adjoining farms can have very dissimilar soil qualities, and that the best explanation is differences in farming and soil-management practices.
Montgomery’s findings are the basis of his new book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.
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