Why would someone need a soil owner’s manual? Who uses owner manuals anyway? For many of us, an owner’s manual is helpful for an orientation and to troubleshoot wh
en a tool or an appliance is not functioning properly. In Jon Stika’s 2016 book A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health, he shares the basic premise that a healthy soil provides essential functions and roles (water cycling, nutrient cycling, physical support, buffering capacity). However, many soils are not functioning properly and dysfunctional today due prior use, misuse, and in some cases neglect and abuse. Therefore, we need to take more ownership in soil health and truly reacquaint ourselves with how a healthy soil should look, feel, smell, and function. In the 60-page manual, he provides a soil-centered approach to soil as a living biological system and why starting with four core soil health principles are foundational in the journey of restoring and maintaining soil health.
“There is no system of production, or soil amendment that will fix what is wrong with your soil. Only your understanding of how the soil functions will fix what ails your soil. You must become a student of what makes soil healthy. It’s that simple and there are not shortcuts.” ~ Jon Stika, from the preface od A Soil Owner’s Manual
Jon Stika grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and was an early proponent of soil health as a conservationist, agronomist, soil scientist, researcher, and teacher with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Jon received numerous awards during his career working on natural resources conservation, water quality, and soil health.
Stika, J. (2016). A Soil Owner’s Manual: How to Restore and Maintain Soil Health. Available online from independent bookstores and UnderstandingAg’s website.