259: David Montgomery on Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.
Using a geology background to understand regenerative soil processes.
David is a MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies.
An author of award-winning popular-science books, he has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide variety of TV and radio programs, including NOVA, PBS NewsHour, Fox and Friends, and All Things Considered.
David has written two books on soil: Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, and The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health which he co-wrote with his wife Anne Biklé.
In This Podcast:
Studying the surface formation of the earth usually means looking at geological processes taking place over long periods of time. Geologist David Montgomery, however, became interested in studying more than just rocks and focused on something a bit more connected to life on earth and in the soil. As a non-farmer, his outsider’s perspective might help others understand the crucial processes taking place in regenerating this very necessary material for food production.
Listen in and learn about:
- Not expecting his geology degree taking him to discussing soil
- Geomorphology – the science studying the surface forms of the earth
- The human change affecting earth – speeding up the rate of erosion
- Rates of soil loss – and places where no original top soil left
- Why chemical fertilizers were needed
- How to rebuild soil fertility without waiting centuries through nature’s process
- Researching a variety of processes and locations
- Number one principle for soil regeneration – ditch the plow
- Number two – cover up
- Number three – grow diversity
- Comparing how nature does the same thing
- Regenerative agriculture from the perspective of a geologist
- Working with hand tools as opposed to bigger technology
- How he got started in farming
- Recognizing the dead soil in their own yard and seeing the life come back to the dirt
- Putting the picture together and gathering stories from a variety of sources
- How using less technology and chemicals are proving to be better for the soil and in many cases better for the pocketbook
As well as:
- His failure – Dropping out of college after two years
- His success – Getting the MacArthur Fellow award
- His drive – Curiosity – learning how things work
- His advice – Mulch your soil, inside and out
Books written by David:
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health – co-written Anne Biklé.
David’s Book recommendations:
How to reach David: