Know your Soils #6: Soil Health Reading List

Know your Soils #6: Soil Health Reading List 551 406 Soilmentor

Welcome to the sixth instalment of our Know your Soils series sharing practical tips for monitoring the soil health on your land. Keep an eye out for our bitesize videos and fact sheets on simple tests you can do yourself on farm.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

The best books for learning about soil health

Book recommendations and where to buy them from a fantastic lineup of soil health experts and enthusiasts!

As the Autumn evenings begin to draw in why not stock up on a few of these soil health books to read on a cosy evening or weekend by the fire. In no particular order…


A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health – Jon Stika

A favourite of Gabe Brown, this book will change the way you think about and manage soil. Learn how to bring your soil back to life!

Recommended by Niels Corfield, Soil Health Expert & Advisor


The Soil and Water Balance – Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

Jump into the latest soil and water research with this Q & A style book, bringing together insights from the Allerton Project and numerous scientific papers.

Recommended by Jackie Stroud, Soil Scientist at Rothamsted Research & ‘The Worm Lady’


Teaming with Microbes: an organic gardener’s guide to the soil – Wayne Lewis & Jeff Lowenfels

Dig into the amazing underworld of microbes in your soil, what they eat, and how they nurture plants to make them strong and healthy.

Recommended by Hannah Steenbergen, 42 Acres, Somerset


Dirt – The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth – William Bryant Logan

This inspirational book is packed with interesting facts about ‘dirt’ and takes a philosophical view, looking at the bigger picture.

Recommended by Elizabeth Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems Research at NIAB


Soil Ecology – Ken Killham

One of the best soil scientists of his generation gives an excellent overview of how soil works physically, chemically and ecologically, a page turner based on hard core science!

Recommended by Elizabeth Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems Research at NIAB


Growing a Revolution – David Montgomery

Tour the world meeting innovative farmers who are ditching their ploughs, mulching cover crops and trying unique crop rotations. A blend of ancient wisdom and modern science!

Recommended by Alex Heffron, a farmer from Pembrokeshire, Wales


The Farm as Ecosystem – Jerry Brunetti

You’ll probably want to have your highlighter with you when you read this fascinating book taking a holistic perspective to farming and offering real-world advice.

Recommended by Alex Heffron, a farmer from Pembrokeshire, Wales


Fertility Farming – Newman Turner

A practical guide for farmers who want to work with nature to build fertile soil, without disruption of the natural order.

Recommended by Alex Heffron, a farmer from Pembrokeshire, Wales


Soil Signals & Grassland Signals – Luppo Diepenbrock

Good introduction to soils as part of a total farm management sustainable system.

Recommended by Jenni Dungait, Soil Health Expert & Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry


Letters to a young farmer – Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

Although not specifically focussed on soil health, this is one of our favourites at Soilmentor HQ. Packed with inspiration and well worth a read!

Recommended by Abby, Annie & Inti, Soilmentor


UPDATE – more recommendations from Twitter!

  • Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth – Judith Schwartz
  • Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations – David Montgomery
  • The Biological Farmer – Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand
  • From The Soil Up – Donald Schriefer
  • For the Love of Soil – Nicole Masters
  • Mycorrhizal Planet – Michael Phillips
  • Dirt to Soil – Gabe Brown
  • The Landscape Below – Bruce C. Ball
  • Back to Earth – Iain Tolhurst

Many thanks to those who emailed or tweeted us recommendations for these updates:
Juuso Joona (@Maan_viljelija)
Diana Donlon (@Soil_Centric)
Angus Hogg (@HoggAngus)
Andrew Heiss (@Heissaj)
Bruce Ball
Wendy Tobitt 

Let us know what you think of these books and if you have anything to add!


See our free online soils guide for soil tests you can do at home and find out how our app Soilmentor helps you record & learn how your soil is changing.