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The Landscape Below (Downloadable book)

Bruce C Ball

Soil, soul and agriculture

SKU/ISBN: 9781849523240

- With a Foreword by Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul -

Aimed at all concerned about the environment, this book presents a radical vision of the future of farming and community life, based on hidden insights from the life and spirit of the soil and on the author’s experiences of growing up in the small, agricultural community of Clatt in North-East Scotland.

160 pages + 8 pages of colour illustrations

Bruce Ball is a soils specialist with a research and consultancy career spanning 35 years. His regular contact with soil in the field and with farmers has led to a deep understanding of the critical importance of soil to our future survival.

Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul, describes this book as 'lyrical’ and ‘an autobiography of the soil written autobiographically by a son of the soil’.

Humanity is trashing the world’s soils by the billion tonne, though all terrestrial life depends on it. Bruce Ball shows that we have the techniques to restore what’s left – but that most of all we need a spiritual shift:  to recover our sense of empathy with the biosphere. We need to dig deep – not into the soil but into our own psyche.
Colin Tudge, biologist, author and co-founder of The Campaign for Real Farming

This is a book that should be piled high in every retail outlet concerned with food and agriculture. I also commend it as an outstanding text for study and meditation, especially for church members and those in Ecocongregations in Britain, Ireland and beyond that seek the deeper spiritual meaning of their calling.
Alastair McIntosh

– Wild Goose Publications gratefully acknowledges the support of the Drummond Trust, 3 Pitt Terrace, Stirling FK8 2EY in producing this book –

Review from The Organic Grower - No. 33, Winter 2015

This is a humble, optimistic and personal book, a story from the author’s heart and mind which avoids dwelling on the damage dealt by history, preferring to present a vision where an enlightened approach to our soils can lead to a better connection with the planet, our food and not least of all, ourselves. Treating soil with respect, love even, can reap greater return as we harness the energy of the flourishing microbes.

The book reads like a dance between art and science, subject and object, soul and soil. Practical experience and a pragmatism, frolics with childhood tales and Scottish folklore. Poems are placed like illustrations and the state of our soils and our-selves are linked metaphorically. This occasionally feels a little contrived, to make the point, but the parallel fits comfortably. 

He references many other writers and thinkers, diggers and dreamers, touching upon their contributions to the modern deep green movement through both theory and practice. However community and a reverence for time and place are the centrepiece, anchored by the evolving story of his father, home and village life.

Bruce, like many land workers, doesn’t distinguish much between life and work. His work with soil has shown him not only the threads that weave us to it but the interconnected web within and emerging from it. He makes no secret of his liberal Christian faith but the message is holistic. Ecology and community are interlocked and the mission statement is less one of novel practical solutions but to connect; with our soils, selves and each other. 

This is an easy going and enjoyable book and although the focus lacks technical juice it is a fresh reminder that our craft is as reliant on a well-cultured society as it is the soil. 

Peter Dollimore



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RRP: £7.49

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Additional Information

Additional Information

Subline Soil, soul and agriculture
Authors Ball, Bruce C
Author(s) Bruce C Ball
ISBN 9781849523240
Date Added 10 Feb 2015


A book of love, love of the soil and of humanity.Review by Admin
By J. Malcolm W. Black, former soil erosion specialist, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, Canada

The Landscape Below by Dr Bruce Ball offers a most interesting and revealing discussion of human nature and behaviour through a comparison with soil characteristics and processes. This seemingly implausible discourse is woven through with stories and reflections of Dr Ball’s upbringing in the tiny farming community of Clatt in NE Scotland. These anecdotes permit the author to demonstrate considerable personal humility and respect for the wisdom of community members. The book very effectively blends Dr Ball’s own meditations on these topics with the conclusions of many others adding further authority to the discussion. I like the sometimes pithy and amusing comments, often self-deprecating, which help make The Landscape Below an entertaining read. The book is enriched by selected poems revealing still further dimensions to Dr Ball’s reflections.

As a fellow soil scientist I was delighted by the simple explanations of soil properties, how they interact, and are affected by farming practices. The author describes soil degradation caused by soil mismanagement and links it to the human condition. He then discusses many different practices which could improve soil quality and emphasizes that farming systems alone cannot produce enough food sustainably without farmers re-connecting with the soil and treating it with respect. He believes that for humans to survive and thrive they must find peace in their own spirituality, reach out to the community, consume less, and live more simply. The Landscape Below is a book of love, love of the soil and of humanity. (Posted on 01/04/2015)

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