SOIL: Soil Microbe Guide and Nicole Masters’ Visit – Helping Us Understand.

By: William Milliot

Water and minerals – the yin and yang of life on earth – one impacts and erodes the other to form soil the base from which living organisms sprang forth onto every landmass on the planet. Those early life forms filtered into, and built, layer upon layer of new soil; complexity exploded into diversity, mineral into mindfulness. Understanding this immense diversity is a challenge. How can one teaspoon of soil hold more forms of life than people in the world? How can so many life forms come together in this bazaar of nutrient trades and exchanges? Soil scientists have taken on the challenge of burrowing deep into the mysteries of soil in an attempt to understand, sustain, and share it.

At TomKat Ranch, we’ve been lucky enough to develop mycorrhizal-like relationships with some of these scientists and the organizations they represent. The reward: Life Belowground on the Range: An Introduction to the Soil Communities that Support California’s Rangelands. Popping with information and color (thanks to Mel Preston, naturalist illustrator and Point Blue Rangeland Field Ecologist), this beautiful guide can be downloaded here, or contact Chelsea Carey at Point Blue Conservation Science for a hard copy.

Another of our favorite soil scientists, Nicole Masters wrote: For the Love of Soil: Strategies to Regenerate Our Food Production Systems, a how-to book about monitoring, adapting, and building healthy soils. Whether you’re a front yard hobbyist or a full-time 10,000-acre ranch manager, the book will help you green the world around you.

“For the Love of Soil was written to communicate the often complex and technical know-how of soil in more digestible terms, with case studies from regenerative farmers, growers and ranchers in Australasia and North America. I reveal what inspired these land managers to shift their thinking and what have been the results from a process of restoring the soil-gut-microbiome. We’ll also explore the principles and tools so you can take actions to regenerate your own soil resource, no matter the scale.”

You can find a video of Nicole presenting at the Practical Farmers of Iowa here –

Like deciduous trees reacting to warm sunshine, we blossom with new knowledge and insights. As our understanding of the fundamentals of soil life grows, so too does our ability to correct the errors of the past and build a foundation for future generations. In a show of appreciation to those who are bettering the world’s understanding of the ‘life below ground’, we tip our hats. Thank you, Chelsea, Mel, and Nicole for being part of our soil knowledge web!