023 - Soil Health, Gut Health, and Regenerative Agriculture with Dr. David R. Montgomery

Improving Our Health And Environment At The Same Time


Dr. David R. Montgomery is a professor of geomorphology in the department of Earth & Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. In this episode David shares a bit of his story, and we delve into the details of building healthy soil, and how it’s connected to our own health. He does a great job of communicating the science, and explaining these details. I had a great time interviewing him.

Thanks to everyone who supports us in some way shape or form. We always love hearing how you’re living a probiotic life.



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- study of topography

- soil erosion

- works on the here and now of geography

- looks at sustainability, long term perspective



Geology & the Human Element

- David wanted to learn about the world

- took geology, “competing against [their] lack of knowledge”

- saw how ecosystems & farming impact soil erosion

- wrote a book about how religious thought & geological science have historically affected each other

- wrote a book with his wife about how microbial life influences health of plants, people, farms



Formative Influences

- spent lots of time playing outside as a kid

- his wife Anne (a biologist) had a similar experience



Humans Have a Lot to Learn

- when it comes to modern impact on natural age, humans are in the driver’s seat

- we are still figuring out the blueprint of how this earth works 



Soil & Geology

- takes lots of micronutrients to grow a healthy plant

- the vast majority of these come from the ground

- need to get rocks broken down and their minerals released into the soil

- this is mostly done by microbes

- soil is a grand recycling system, that takes organic material and returns it to the ground to feed new life

- earth is the only planet we know of currently where this is the case



Soil Around the World

- discussion of specific places in the world, where availability of different mineral elements has greatly impacted the botanical world

- most soils around the world have the basic sets of minerals needed for plant growth, but they are often locked up in the soil unreleased

- it’s possible to add the nutrients needed to the soil

- we need to bring the biology back to the soil



The Soil & Our Gut

- aha! moment while writing The Hidden Half of Nature”

- striking similarities between soil system and human gut

- inflammation is a very important part of immune function, goes to fix problems

- we don’t want to be constantly in inflammation

- what you are feeding your microbes has a direct impact on your immune system function

- we need to eat fibre for our gut function, to feed our microbes

- what we eat and how we treat the soil really does matter

- probiotics are the microbes; prebiotics are what we feed the microbes



Restoration of Farmland

- discussion of restoring farmland

- 3 principles in common shared by farms where soil was restored quickly

- 1) no-till or minimum-till farming

- 2) keep the land covered with cover crops to act as green manure

- 3) plant a diversity of crops

- these all promote the growth of beneficial microbial life

- these are all against modern conventional agriculture

- the places that used the conservation agriculture made the land even better than nature had it in the first place

- the future of biodiversity is tied to the future of agriculture

- on all markers, these regenerative farming techniques are a win



Final Thoughts

- American indigenous agriculture: they were practising crop diversity on their planting

- all of the people David & wife Anne interviewed shared a common desire to rebuild the land’s fertility, as the foundation of our civilisation

- past civilisations stopped their soil to their societies’ detriment

- if we can change these practices in our current century, that would alter the arc of history, and we need to get it right this time

- David’s books: 1) Growing A Revolution: Bring Our Soil Back To Life; 

                           2) The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health; 

                           3) Dirt: The Erosion of Civilisations

- books available wherever books are sold




Website: dig2grow.com

Twitter: @dig2grow

Facebook: dig2growbooks