Kiss The Ground is a book written by Josh Tickell. Tickell is an author, film director, speaker, and expert on sustainability and the climate.
As in The Soil Will Save Us, this book explains how the soil can slow or reverse climate change.
But it's more than that, it shows us that changing our food buying habits and purchase food grown by soil-nourishing, regenerative agriculture, we can eliminate the consumption of poisonous substances that harm our children and us.
The author does this with compelling interviews with international politicians, ranchers, farmers, scientists, and celebrity chefs that support regenerative agriculture. He gives excellent examples of how this farming method rebuilds our most precious resource—the very ground that feeds us.
The book also touches on how agro-businesses and government programs dictate not only what crops are grown but what chemicals have to be applied if farmers expect to profit.
Kiss The Ground by Josh Tickell
I have to admit when it comes to reading about international politics, my eyes close. However, the story and interview with France’s Agricultural Minister and the politics behind the UN's Climate Change Conference piqued my interest.
Other interviews documented in the book included the former NRCS agronomist Ray Archuleta, farmer Gabe Brown, and Rodale Institute soil scientist Dr. Kristine Nichol.
They explain how tillage and chemical inputs degrade soil, releasing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, and cause soil erosion.
They then describe how no-till agriculture, planting cover crops, and managing grazing sequester carbon back into the ground. Thus improving soil health (yes, the soil is alive), which provides drought resistance and reduces the need for chemicals.
For me, the interviews and the author's writing makes it more clear in my mind that regenerative agriculture is the way to farm.
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Kiss The Ground and The Soil Will Save Us are two great books that highlight the benefits of regenerative agriculture. Furthermore, we need to be wary of how government programs and agricultural business, in effect, force farmers to grow particular crops using monoculture.
The interesting facts and tidbits in Kiss the Ground are summarized below.
Try the audiobook on Audible. Kiss the Ground is a great book to have the author read to you.
Government Programs & Crop Insurance
The author and this interviewees detail how government subsidies and crop insurance (basically forced on the farmers) dictate the crop (yes, singular) farmers have to grow to ensure a profit.
I'm not going to go into detail here on the problems. The book does it way more justice than I can on how the futures market and insurance leads to the majority of farmers to grow the same crop.
Of course, the flood of this one grain during harvest causes the price to drop. Now that the price has crashed, the farmers have to rely on the insurance.
You see the crazy cycle here?
Buy My Seeds - Oh, You Have To Use This
Yep, I'm touching on GMOs.
I'm tired of people saying (remember I live where people use GMO seeds) "What's the big deal with GMO's, we've been modifying seed and animals since farming started."
Yes, we humans have been selectively breeding plants and animals forever. However, selective breeding isn't changing the genetic make-up of the organism by inserting DNA and genes into the organism.
Creating GMO's is like skipping 100's of steps in the natural progression of things. As much as this can quickly advance the process, it can skip all of the warning signs and nature eliminations that would protect the ecosystem from organisms that may create havoc.
GMO seeds are created not only to produce more yield or increase disease resistance but so the farmer can spray chemicals over the plants to kill weeds. It has been reported that those chemicals do end up in the finished crop.
What these weed killers lead to, though, is bare ground after the crop is harvested. The herbicides don't kill selectively. Instead, they destroy everything except the GMO plant, and nothing else grows.
So the soil is always bare for more months than the crop is growing. If the chemicals aren't bad enough for soil life, the bare ground makes it worst.
More and More Chemicals Leads to Desertification
Since the ground is left bare most of the time, carbon is not only not being sequestered, it's escaping back into the atmosphere.
Now the farmers have to add more synthetic fertilizer and chemicals to grow crops for higher yield.
The increasing use of chemicals leads to the process of desertification that is destroying the places where we grow food.
Another nasty cycle, where we need to add more and more chemicals to improve yields.
The Soil Will Save Us also touches on how the increased use of chemicals is destroying farmland.
The chemicals and fertilizer used in conventional farming harm or kill beneficial soil-building organisms. Those that survive starve once the crop is harvested due to the lack of organic matter in the soil.
Poor soil management, compaction, wind, rain, spring run-off, exposure to UV light, and plant uptake is destroying or removing fertile soil at alarming rates.
Organic Farming Isn't Always Good For Soil
Just because a farm is organic doesn't mean that the farming practices are good for the soil.
Even before farmers started using chemical inputs, they were destroying the land.
Don't think so? Read Jared Diamond's book called Collapse. He discusses all the civilizations that collapsed for several reasons, but most started because of ruined farmland.
A regenerative process has to be added to organic farming to improve the soil.
For example, read the methods Gabe Brown uses in a medium-sized farm to improve the soil.
He wrote a best seller titled Dirt to Soil, where he tells how he improved the farm's soil using regenerative practices to create carbon-rich humus.
Favorite Quote from Kiss The Ground
"Accumulation is like an addiction. There is a need to want more and more. We live in an 'Accumulation Culture'.
Wars, or destruction of natural resources, and the degradation of the land and climate all come down to our misplaced priority on the accumulation of material things, and the resulting separation we have from the natural world"
Tony Ten Fingers - Author
It's Recommended Reading
Kiss The Ground is an excellent book.
It's written not only for people who are curious about regenerative agriculture but also for those that want to improve their soil and environment.
The book isn't like listening to a lecture, but rather, an interesting discussion on how we can make things better.
It's a book about treating the soil better and producing more food for less money while increasing the nutritional value of the food we grow.
Below are more books that I recommend reading that discuss the benefits and methods of regenerative agriculture from the garden to farm scale.
These five books provide methods to improve your soil by creating humus and sequestering CO2.
Regardless if you're a farmer that grows crops and has livestock, or plant a small 200 square-foot garden, one or more of these books provides methods that will improve your soil
Below are Amazon links to the six books. The prices are for the paperback version (if available).
Have you read any of these books? Let us know what you think about any of them or the views outlined in this article, leave a comment below.