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A riveting exploration of how microbes are transforming the way we see nature and ourselves—and could revolutionize agriculture and medicine. Prepare to set aside what you think you know about yourself and microbes. Good health—for people and for plants—depends on Earth’s smallest creatures. The Hidden Half of Nature tells the story of our tangled relationship with microbes and their potential to revolutionize agriculture and medicine, from garden to gut. When David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé decide to restore life into their barren yard by creating a garden, dead dirt threatens their dream. As a cure, they feed their soil a steady diet of organic matter. The results impress them. In short order, the much-maligned microbes transform their bleak yard into a flourishing Eden. Beneath their feet, beneficial microbes and plant roots continuously exchange a vast array of essential compounds. The authors soon learn that this miniaturized commerce is central to botanical life’s master strategy for defense and health. They are abruptly plunged further into investigating microbes when Biklé is diagnosed with cancer. Here, they discover an unsettling truth. An armada of bacteria (our microbiome) sails the seas of our gut, enabling our immune system to sort microbial friends from foes. But when our gut microbiome goes awry, our health can go with it. The authors also discover startling insights into the similarities between plant roots and the human gut. We are not what we eat. We are all—for better or worse—the product of what our microbes eat. This leads to a radical reconceptualization of our relationship to the natural world: by cultivating beneficial microbes, we can rebuild soil fertility and help turn back the modern plague of chronic diseases. The Hidden Half of Nature reveals how to transform agriculture and medicine—by merging the mind of an ecologist with the care of a gardener and the skill of a doctor.
Our world is built on an invisible one we are barely beginning to understand. In The Hidden Half of Nature, geologist David R. Montgomery and biologist Anne Biklé argue that Earth's smallest creatures—microbes—could revolutionize how we grow food, what we eat, and how we practice medicine.The Hidden Half of Nature shares a geologist's and a biologist's efforts to turn their barren Seattle lot into a flourishing garden and Biklé's own struggle with cancer. Taking readers deep into the science and history of agriculture and immunology, Montgomery and Biklé show that beneficial microbes can provide powerful solutions to the problems plaguing modern agriculture, such as excess chemicals and infertile crops, as well as our own bodies, weakened by antibiotics and high-fat, low-fiber diets. A spellbinding story, The Hidden Half of Nature reveals how we can restore fertility to the land and defeat chronic diseases.
A riveting exploration of how microbes are transforming the way we see nature and ourselves and could revolutionize agriculture and medicine."
Ranging from ancient times to modern-day environmental threats, a natural and cultural history of soil explains how an elimination of protective vegetation and an exposure to wind and rain causes severe erosion of cultivated soils, how the use and abuse of soil has shaped human history, and the how the rise of organic and no-till farming holds hope for the future.
A MacArthur Fellow’s impassioned call to make agriculture sustainable by ditching the plow, covering the soil, and diversifying crop rotations. The problem of agriculture is as old as civilization. Throughout history, great societies that abused their land withered into poverty or disappeared entirely. Now we risk repeating this ancient story on a global scale due to ongoing soil degradation, a changing climate, and a rising population. But there is reason for hope. David R. Montgomery introduces us to farmers around the world at the heart of a brewing soil health revolution that could bring humanity’s ailing soil back to life remarkably fast. Growing a Revolution draws on visits to farms in the industrialized world and developing world to show that a new combination of farming practices can deliver innovative, cost-effective solutions to problems farmers face today. Cutting through standard debates about conventional and organic farming, Montgomery explores why practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture help restore soil health and fertility. Farmers he visited found it both possible and profitable to stop plowing up the soil and blanketing fields with chemicals. Montgomery finds that the combination of no-till planting, cover crops, and diverse crop rotations provides the essential recipe to rebuild soil organic matter. Farmers using these unconventional practices cultivate beneficial soil life, smother weeds, and suppress pests while relying on far less, if any, fertilizer and pesticides. These practices are good for farmers and the environment. Using less fossil fuel and agrochemicals while maintaining crop yields helps farmers with their bottom line. Regenerative practices also translate into farms that use less water, generate less pollution, lower carbon emissions—and stash an impressive amount of carbon underground. Combining ancient wisdom with modern science, Growing a Revolution lays out a solid case for an inspiring vision where agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems, helping feed us all, cool the planet, and restore life to the land.
Using rocks as proof, a geologist examines the great flood stories found in many cultures and religions and travels across countries and landscapes to discover a place where theology and science converge. 13,000 first printing.
The more you know, the better you grow! Plants are capable of interesting and unexpected things. Why do container plants wilt when they’ve been regularly watered? Why did the hydrangea that thrived last year never bloom this year? Why do slugs wipe out the vegetable garden instead of eating the weeds? Plant physiology—the study of how living things function—can solve these and most other problems gardeners regularly encounter. In How Plants Work, horticulture expert and contributor to the popular blog The Garden Professors, Linda Chalker-Scott brings the stranger-than-fiction science of the plant world to vivid life. She uncovers the mysteries of how and why plants do the things they do, and arms the home gardener with fascinating knowledge that will change the way they garden.

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