The Plain Dealer: Former Clevelander Kristin Ohlson makes a spirited case for greener farming in 'The Soil Will Save Us'

Mother Nature bats last, and if you need a pithy but elegant saying to tattoo on a body part, preferably one of your own, you could do worse than that one.

She bats last, and she knows best. Her skin is the earth, the ground, the soil; and humans have been tearing at it – plowing, for agriculture – since 2500 B.C.

This is not a good thing, according to a number of people that author Kristin Ohlson interviews and reports on in her book “The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Building Healthy Soil to Heal the Planet” (Rodale, 256 pp., $23.99).

Plowing, essential to traditional agriculture, is a “drastic perturbation” of the soil, says one of her sources. It releases carbon into the air and disturbs the diverse subsurface population: bacteria, protozoa, tiny worms called nematodes, and micro-arthropods, plus fungal mycorrhizae that can range over great underground distances. Read article