Building Soils for Better Crops has evolved over time. The first edition focused exclusively on the management of soil organic matter. If you follow practices that build and maintain good levels of soil organic matter, you will find it easier to grow healthy and high-yielding crops. Plants can withstand droughty conditions better and won’t be as bothered by insects and diseases. By maintaining adequate levels of organic matter in soil, you have less reason to use as much commercial fertilizer, lime, and pesticides as many farmers now purchase. Soil organic matter is that important.
Organic matter management was also the heart of the second edition, but we decided to write a more comprehensive guide that includes other essential aspects of building healthy soils, such as managing soil physical properties and nutrients, as well as a chapter on evaluating soil health. In addition, farmer case studies were updated and a new one added. The case studies describe a number of key practices that enhance the health of the farmers’ soils.