Book review and content for Soil Science Australia website

This thankful Earth – A Practical Guide to Sustainable Land Use

Authors - John and Anne Shaw

When an elderly couple bought a run-down farm near a small town in southern Queensland, Australia, their neighbours thought the old people were just enjoying their retirement on a ‘hobby block’.  It took a while for the message to sink in that these old folk were about to challenge long-held local myths about land and farming. Soon it was seen that water was being pumped from a bore which had previously been declared ‘dry’. Edible grasses and clovers replaced the tough, spikey weeds which had infested the farm. Trees were planted and thrived despite a lack of irrigation. The farm became prosperous again.

‘This thankful Earth’ is a record of the combined thoughts, ideas and hard work of two people with a common heritage of caring for the land and all its inhabitants.

Soil Science Australia members have provided some comment on the book:

“For anyone interested in land rehabilitation their journey is of interest.  While some may disagree with the authors on one or two technical points, their observations highlight that every farmer is a scientist – nothing beats years of close field observation of the climate, plants, animals and soil.  The insights gained in doing so can be more valuable than years of academic study in terms of on-farm practice change”.

“I encourage people to read the book as many of the simple comments in it make you stop and think about landscapes and how they are viewed by different people”.

 “From a scientific point of view, some of John’s explanations are open to question. These are minor, and one gets the distinct impression that exposed to more information, he would alter his views, but subject to testing in practical context.  The essence of John’s plea for sustainable land management is based on fundamental, unquestionable principles revolving around maintaining cover on farm land and beyond. He links cover to soil protection, water penetration, proliferation of soil biota, carbon sequestration, water quality improvement and run-off reduction. It makes interesting and informative reading to see how he has used traditional and innovative ways to achieve these outcomes’.

 “I found it an interesting read, not the least because I have met the authors and visited their property not long after they purchased it.  While it is a slightly rambling read, the style reinforces the passion of the authors for their topics and you feel you are sitting on their verandah, having a conversation with them”.

‘This thankful Earth’ is available to purchase as a hardcopy for $38.50 (inc postage and packing + tracking within Australia, additional costs if posting overseas). To order a copy contact Anne Shaw (either by phone or email).  There are discounts available for multiple book orders.

Email: johnandanne47@gmail.com

PH: 07 4420 1236

‘This thankful Earth’ is also available as an electronic publication from Amazon:


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