Paper, 193 pp., $27.50
As a research scientist in the field of agricultural sciences and water resources, Australian Richard Stirzaker is knowledgeable about the irrigation of soils, a critical situation in a country where drought conditions and flooding rains rule. Organized in three sections, the text contains essays that first direct attention to the relationship of crop productivity to irrigation, using a typical home garden plot as example to relate the interaction of plants and their environment. The next collections of essays provide an overview of the author’s work as a soil scientist and the challenges in measuring the critical amount of irrigation needed for crop production and grass cover. He cautions those who work with ground water when he says, “We make decisions to maximize productivity without realizing we may be destroying the very ecosystem that sustains us.” The final chapters explore such topics as agricultural practices, diversified farming systems, and the global food supply. Illustrated with photographs from his family collection and other sources, the book gives the reader a better understanding of how vital water resources are to feeding the world.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden