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This month we're bringing you a variety of stories that show how small-scale farmers like the ones we work with on a daily basis are adapting to the effects of a changing climate. So, in case you missed it from a few months ago, World Ark magazine had an interview with Judith Schwartz, author of the book Cows Save the Planet. In her book Schwartz addresses the critical issue of topsoil depletion, which can happen as a result of desertification and erosion—both of which occur because of climate change.

Read on to find out more. 

Interview, photos and video by Erik Hoffner,
 World Ark contributor

WORLD ARK: How did you settle on that name for the book?

JUDITH SCHWARTZ: I couldn’t come up with a title with the word soil in it that didn’t sound like a yawn—or that would capture the attention of people who aren’t already thinking about soil, like farmers or ecologists. Then I saw a comic book of my son’s, called Cows of Our Planet by Gary Larson, and I thought, “Cows SAVE the Planet”—that’s it! I liked that it alerted readers that they’d encounter some surprising, counterintuitive ideas that would counter common assumptions. And, of course, it’s a nod to holistic management, which I discuss a lot in the book.

WA: It seems like you had a lot of fun writing it.

SCHWARTZ: Absolutely, it was like seeing one world open up after another. I met so many people with different approaches to improving soil, resulting in greater yields. And relatively quickly! Several people I talked to were able to build several inches of topsoil in a single season, through careful stewardship. 

WA: That’s good news, given how much topsoil we’re losing globally.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, we’re generally not aware that humanity is suffering from a serious loss of agricultural soils, and also grasslands, where soil is losing its life and desertifying. In many places, several tons of soil are lost in making a single ton of grain, and this has everything to do with how we manage our land and livestock. The good news is that this can be reversed relatively quickly. Nature has a desire to heal itself, while using lots of chemical inputs on agricultural land actually works against nature.

Jump over to finish the full article.  Continue to check back here throughout the month for more stories just like this. 


Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.