Green revolution

The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps for a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture

by James E. Horne, PhD, President, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau Ok and Maura McDermott, Communications Director, Kerr Center.

From a prominent advocate for sustainable agriculture...

"A Well-Researched Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture!"

Provides Instructors a Useful Framework for Teaching the Essential Points of Sustainable Agriculture. Use as a Supplemental Text for Courses in Agriculture, the Environmental Sciences, and Rural Sociology.

Learn about the Eight Steps to a Sustainable Agriculture

> Written in a lively, non-technical style accessible to a broad range of readers

> A personal story, told with humor and conviction, of a conventional "aggie" who experienced a change of heart

> Covers what is being done across the nation to build an agricultural system that is kind to the environment, responsive to consumers, and fair to farmers


Readers with an interest in agriculture and environmental issues will find the book to be . . .

"Accessible, practical, free of jargon. The chapter titles alone give an idea of the book’s liveliness" USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

"What a delight to review a book which so eloquently traces the history of American agriculture, delineates its current status and shares a dream and guidance of how a sustainable future for agriculture might be assured! This volume is a practical guide for the farmer struggling to be productive and profitable in an increasingly hostile economic environment. It would also be useful as a reference for agricultural courses and outreach programs and the public, policy makers, and other interested in agriculture. The volume is instructive, thought provoking, and a stimulus for action…"

Norman J. Doorenbos, Auburn University, in Economic Botany

Agriculture is no longer an afterthought in the environmental movement. Farming, our most extensive interface with the natural environment, is now on the agenda of numerous environmental groups. A more general awareness and understanding of the diversity, subtleties, and struggles of farming, however, is still needed.

Authors James E. Horne and Maura McDermott offer a timely primer on the state of sustainable agriculture at the turn of the new century. The book takes on the whole story, putting industrial agriculture on trial and laying out the fundamental tenets of a more sustainable approach.

Mrill Ingram, Department of Geography, University of Arizona, Tucson, in Environment

The Next Green Revolution is a thorough introduction to sustainable agriculture, written for students and farmers just starting to learn about sustainable practices, but to be appreciated by people from all walks of life who are fresh to the topic…

The authors argue that nothing less than a new green revolution is called for to lead society on a better path to an agriculture that can be sustained. They sketch some of the history of sustainable agriculture and its philosophical origins and definitions—essential background for the intended reading audience: students in agriculture programs and courses and individuals who are starting from scratch to learn about sustainable agriculture. The book prescribes eight steps to the next green revolution and is packed with basic information about such topics as soil, nutrient cycles, water cycles, cover crops, pest management, etc. There are several "Checklists for Farmers" included, such as the one that lists fourteen points on how to conserve water and protect its quality.

--Dana Jackson
Land Stewardship Project Associate Director, in The Land Stewardship Letter

"The Next Green Revolution is well-written and replete with personal experiences and real-farm examples" – George Kuepper, agriculture consultant, book review review

"... a very timely, informative, and readable contribution to the future of agriculture and rural communities in the United States. It offers a vision of a more successful agriculture that supports both farmers and rural communities, and an eight-step plan for achieving it" – Jill Shore Auburn, PhD, former director of University of California Sustainable Agriculture Program, now with USDA review

"An insightful account of the struggle now underway to make sustainable agriculture a truly viable alternative to conventional farming. The authors' conviction is understandable and contagious" – Neill Schaller, PhD, former associate director, Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculturereview

"It gives practical suggestions for increasing profits and reducing risks while regenerating the soil, protecting the environment, and being good neighbors. Horne and McDermott show us that sustainable farming is not only possible, it is also very practical." -John E. Ikerd, PhD, Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri. review

"Horne breathes life into the story of American agriculture, its history, triumphs, and tragedies
-Lorraine Stuart Merrill, Farmer and Agricultural Journalist, Stratham, New Hampshire

Through The Next Green Revolution: Essential Steps to a Healthy Sustainable Agriculture, by James E. Horne, PhD. and Maura McDermott, one sees the social loss that accompanied the industrialization of agriculture. What has happened to our society now that we can no longer offer a way of life which teaches thriftiness, self-sufficiency, and intuitive understanding of natural ecosystems? That social loss also encompasses neighborhoods and communities which were interlaced in every way imaginable; socially, by blood relation, economically, and in a less than perfect harmony with the natural world and the seasons. Yes, there were problems in dirt poor, farming America, but our century has been a consistent search for solutions which cause even greater disharmony.
Dan Nagengast, Kansas Rural News

What Kind of Book is It?

The Next Green Revolution is written to be accessible and convincing to people who are not currently involved in sustainable agriculture, as well as those who are. It accomplishes this by drawing on Dr. Horne's unique perspective. Horne started out as a conventional "aggie" (MS Agricultural Economics, OSU 1972), suspicious of sustainable agriculture and its adherents. But he slowly changed his mind, becoming in the process an advocate for change on both the regional and national level. His is the story of an agriculturist and educator coming to grips with the failings of the conventional system and searching for alternatives.

Writing in the first person, Horne describes growing up in a sharecropper family in Oklahoma, running his own ranch, and consulting with farmers as an agricultural economist. He shares what he learned as the Kerr Center experimented with new "sustainable" approaches to old problems on the Center's ranch/farm, and the experiences he has had working with the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He has a broad perspective on what is happening in sustainable agriculture both on the farm and at the research station.

While many books have explored aspects of sustainable agriculture or even attempted a comprehensive appraisal, none have synthesized its key ideas into eight steps that farmers can follow and educators can teach. This approach gives readers an easy-to-understand framework for thinking about sustainable agriculture. It also provides educators with a coherent framework for getting across the key ideas of the subject.

Also of benefit to readers: the many "boxes" scattered throughout the text which present more specialized material for farmers and ranchers, even consumers. For each step there is a checklist of things that producers can do to make changes on the farm.

Woven into the book are Dr. Horne's reflections on social justice, quality of life, and how farmers and rural communities are inextricably linked.

Who Will Want to Read It?

For farmers, agriculture students, and educators curious about sustainable agriculture, the book serves as a clear-eyed introduction to the field, sweeping away common misconceptions and providing a compelling argument for change. Non-farmers who are just casually acquainted with the term "sustainable agriculture" will come away with a thorough understanding of what it means, what is at stake, and what is needed for farmers to achieve a sustainable agriculture and a healthier environment.

However, even people already convinced of the need for a more sustainable agriculture will find this book quite useful for education and outreach. The authors avoid the use of unnecessary jargon and rhetoric in presenting the fundamental ideas of sustainable agriculture. The book will help teachers and activists answer the question: What is sustainable agriculture? It offers interesting examples of what is happening in the field and also affords an instructive first-hand account of one group's attempt to "go sustainable."


  • Major problems in contemporary industrial-style agriculture and how to solve them
  • The meaning of sustainable agriculture
  • Philosophical and historical roots of sustainable agriculture
  • The politics of sustainable agriculture
  • Applied research, experimentation at the Kerr Center
  • Problems in Oklahoma’s agriculture and environment
  • What farmers across the nation are doing to make their farms sustainable
  • Eight steps to a sustainable agriculture which address:
    1. healthy soil and water
    2. organic waste management
    3. Oklahoma-adapted crops and livestock
    4. biological diversity on the farm
    5. environmentally-safe pest management
    6. energy conservation
    7. farm diversification and profitability

About the Authors

Dr. Jim Horne has been head of the Kerr Center since its establishment in 1985, and before that served as vice-president of the agricultural division of the Kerr Foundation. He was among the handful that testified before the Congress about the need for USDA programs in sustainable agriculture. He has a rare blend of experiences in farming, policy, economics, education and international agriculture that enables him to understand issues from various perspectives.

As communications director of the Kerr Center, Maura McDermott edits Field Notes and other Kerr Center publications and also writes about farmers and rural issues. She is also a nationally recognized magazine writer, honored for her natural history/environmental features in the state magazine Oklahoma Today. She specializes in making agricultural and environmental topics accessible and interesting to a broad range of readers. She works from her family farm near Checotah.

Ordering Information

Order hard or soft cover copies (up to 5 copies) of the book from the Kerr Center at special discount prices– soft: $35; hard: $65. Shipping and handling is $4 for the first book, $1.50 for each additional.

To get desk or review copies contact CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group
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