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User Review  - jjwilson61 - LibraryThing

Interesting, but it bogged down when the author described one civilization after another doing the same or almost the same thing to their soil and paying the consequence. The entire middle portion of the book could have been summarized into one chapter. Read full review

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Most farmers are doing little better than mining our soil, rather than genuinely sustainably creating wealth from nature's interest (i.e. sunlight and soil, created from rock at the rate of about about a few inches per century). The only truly sustainable agricultural systems in the world are some terraced and paddy field systems such as exist in South America, Africa and parts of Asia, where all matter extracted from the soil, including human waste containing essential phosphorous, is returned to the soil. Every other form of agriculture practised by humankind has resulted in the destruction of soil and collapse of civilisations after centuries at most.
Human history has largely been a sequence of cycles in which agricultural civilisations grown in size and populations until the soil has been destroyed and can no longer sustain the populations. The populations then collapse until centuries later the soil has recovered and the cycle starts anew. I read this in David Montgomery's "Dirt - The Erosion of Civilisations" (2007), which I cannot recommend too highly. It is roughly 245 pages long and gives a brilliant, highly readable overview of agricultural practices on every continent throughout history right up to the present day.
(adapted from post to

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