Books to Read

A Growers Guide for Balancing Soils

Whether you’re a serious home gardener or a full-time farmer, A Growers Guide for Balancing Soils will help you expand your understanding of the science behind plant nutrition. It all starts with the soil, but, as you’ll read, just spreading compost and hoping for the best isn’t a strategy for success.

Drawing on 40 years of experience using the Albrecht philosophy of balancing soils, William McKibben will walk you through a data-driven, time-tested process that starts with soil analysis, but doesn’t stop there. Productive soil that has the right balance of bio-available minerals and maximizes crop production and quality is the goal, and McKibben outlines a common-sense approach for how to get there.

The Art of Balancing Soil Nutrients

Earthworks was built in 1988 on the concept of providing significant information to our clients.  The more information we provide the more success we’ve seen in the field from superintendents of all agronomic levels.

In 2013, our Logan Labs Agronomist, Bill McKibben published what I think is one of the quintessential books on the subject of balancing soils chemically.  The Art of Balancing Soil Nutrients will help everyone better understand how to read the Logan Labs soil tests.  He clarifies how to use base saturation and how not to use it.  Bill has been our go-to person when it comes to knowing the best way to use the water soluble paste extract soil test.  He has really driven home the differences between a heavy soil and a low CEC soil; which is so typical in the golf course industry.  Bill has also changed the way we read, and more importantly how we use, the water tests.

We are putting a strong focus on what we call our “monitoring” approach.  Most golf courses and sports fields are either sand based or at least heavily top dressed over the years.  The changes that can happen on low CEC soils can happen very quickly, especially after a spring of nothing but rain!  We see some very strange things happening on our soil tests - like a pH drop by over a point in only a few weeks and CEC numbers increasing at the some time.  Where does an agronomist go when he has soil questions?  The answer is Bill McKibben and I can’t tell you how helpful he and his book have been.

The Farm as Ecosystem

For more years than I can count I had been pushing my late business partner, Jerry Brunetti, to write a book on all the stuff that was in his head.  Jerry and I founded EarthWorks in 1988 and he formulated all of our liquid organic products and Renovate Plus since day one.  Jerry was one of the brightest voices in sustainable agriculture.  He built a business of his own, AgriDynamics, where he formulated natural remedies for dairy cows and other livestock, long before we came up with the concept of EarthWorks.  I first met Jerry when I was a very green Penn State County Extension Agent; he became my mentor and inspiration.

His book, The Farm as Ecosystem, is brilliant, well written, and filled with his years of experiences and observations.  Jerry took the concepts of soil chemistry into and beyond soil biology.  He addressed the importance of many concepts like foliar feeding, compost tea and even earthworms.  It leans toward the farming community, but soils are soils regardless of if your primary plant material is alfalfa or bent grass.  Everyone who is interested in how a soil really works will find this book well worth their time.

These books are available through the book store at ACRES U.S.A. and I would encourage everyone to make an easy investment in your own success.

Happy reading.