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Earth Matters: How Soil Underlies Civilization

  • Shows how soil, and the multitude of organisms that live in it, control all the biogeochemical cycles on which the functioning and future health of the Earth depends
  • Considers the relationship between human civilisation and soil, past and present
  • Describes the fundamental role of soil in climate change mitigation, food security, water quality and the restoration of biodiversity
  • Discusses the impact of widespread soil degradation, and explains why future sustainable management of soils is key to human well being, even for an increasingly urban human population

By: Richard D Bardgett(Author)

191 pages, b/w photos

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jan 2016 | #222240 | ISBN-13: 9780199668564
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £18.99 $24/€21 approx

About this book

For much of history, soil has played a major, and often central, role in the lives of humans. Entire societies have risen, and collapsed, through the management or mismanagement of soil; farmers and gardeners worldwide nurture their soil to provide their plants with water, nutrients, and protection from pests and diseases; major battles have been aborted or stalled by the condition of soil; murder trials have been solved with evidence from the soil; and, for most of us, our ultimate fate is the soil.

In Earth Matters Richard Bardgett discusses soil and the many, and sometimes surprising, ways that humanity has depended on it throughout history, and still does today. Analysing the role soil plays in our own lives, despite increasing urbanization, and in the biogeochemical cycles that allow the planet to function effectively, Bardgett considers how superior soil management could combat global issues such as climate change, food shortages, and the extinction of species. Looking to the future, Bardgett argues that it is vital for the future of humanity for governments worldwide to halt soil degradation, and to put in place policies for the future sustainable management of soils.

"[...] an enjoyable, accessible read."
– Simon Bates, The BES Bulletin 47(3), October 2016

"highly readable and authoritative book"
Network Review

"Richard Bardgett is one of the most eloquent and knowledgeable of the soil scientists who have cotnributed to the current enthusiasm about soils [...] a must read"
– Wim H. van der Putten, Trends in Ecology & Evolution

"In conclusion this is an excellent, concise and very well written text which should be read by as wide a readership as possible, not just Soil Scientists. Soil Scientists will find this text interesting, non-Soil Scientist will find it fascinating!"
IUSS Bulletin


1: Soil and the distant past
2: Soil and the grower
3: Soil and biodiversity
4: Soil and water
6: Soil and climate
7: Soil and the city
8: Soil and war
9: Soil and the future

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Richard Bardgett is a soil scientist and Professor of Ecology at Lancaster University. He is the Editor of the Journal of Ecology and Vice President of the British Ecological Society and holds positions in international biodiversity assessment committees. He has authored and co-authored several books, including The Biology of Soil.

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