Modern conventional agriculture is destroying our soil. At the rate we’re going, we will lose one-third of our agricultural production capacity in the next century, even as the population is expected to increase by at least 50%. Worse yet, our current system actually pays farmers to destroy the land through subsidies and crop insurance, perpetuating a model that keeps farmers reliant on oil and chemical inputs.
But there is a solution, and today’s guest has written two books about it. David Montgomery is a professor at the University of Washington and the author of Dirt: Erosion of Civilizations and Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life. David studied geology at Stanford University before earning his PhD in geomorphology at UC Berkeley. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2008.
Today David joins Ross and Christophe to explain why civilizations that degrade their soil don’t last. We discuss the troubling numbers around soil degradation and loss and the three simple farming practices that would restore our soil. David walks us through the residual benefits of regenerative farming and the factors that inhibit widespread adoption. Listen in for David’s insight into the challenges Nori might face in paying farmers to capture carbon in the soil and learn how quickly we might restore the soil pending the adoption of regenerative practices.
[2:08] The relationship between civilizations and soil
[4:45] The troubling statistics of soil degradation, loss
[6:38] How simple changes in farming practices could restore the soil
[13:42] How diverse crop rotation defeats pests without chemicals
[18:36] What is preventing widespread adoption of restorative practices
[23:12] How regenerative farming provides a better business model
[29:21] The role of subsidies and crop insurance in slowing adoption
[31:40] The challenge in Nori’s intent to pay farmers who remove carbon
[36:52] The residual environmental benefits of regenerative farming
[37:40] How regenerative farming translates to variability in soil, crops
[42:44] David’s insight on the future of our soil