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Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  314 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Is it too late to regenerate the earth? Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our Australian landscape and our planet. This ground-breaking book will change the way we think of, farm and grow food. Author and radical farmer Charles Massy explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soi ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by University of Queensland Press (first published September 13th 2017)
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Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ecologists, climate activists, food system folks, farmers
Shelves: agriculture
A little too abstract, a little too wise
It is time for us to kiss the earth again.

Robinson Jeffers "Return"

To say this is a book about agriculture is like saying War and Peace is a book about battles. Paul Hawken's blurb calls it "the single most important book on agriculture today." Well-put. The sub-title is A New Agriculture A New Earth. Other books published years ago, like An Agricultural Testament will have had more influence than this, published 2017. I pray this new one will motivate
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charles Massy’s extraordinary book charts a lifetime of learning how—and why—to be a better farmer. As we hurtle into the Anthropocene, his call for land managers to develop greater “ecological literacy” is a voice we all need to heed. (“Ecological literacy means the ability to read a landscape: to appraise the state of its health and how it is functioning, and thus to know how to address any issues.” p. 55) Other reviewers have provided useful summaries of Massy’s arguments, so in what follows, ...more
Robert Lukins
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know I wanted to know everything about regenerative farming; turns out I did because this is actually about how humans exist within the environment, and this is the only real story; read this; cry and then be hopeful; give it to a farmer. ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book and a celebration of so many Australian farmers I have met over the years who have helped define alternative approaches to agricultural landscape management. Like the way he does not advocate any particular model thereby allowing the reader to pick elements that are relevant to their interests, aspirations. landscapes and systems.

Regards our own agroforestry work (The Otway Agroforestry Network and Master TreeGrower program), which Charles celebrates (414-429) readers may be intereste
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Charles Massy takes the reader on a meandering route through seemingly endless case studies of sustainable agricultural practice, mostly in Australia, in the manner of an aimless road trip or a sightseeing wander around a diverse farm. In fact, each chapter begins with him describing a bit about a particular trip to visit an inspirational agricultural innovator, or a walk through his back paddocks, before launching into the substantive matter of the chapter. It's a slow way to tell a story but t ...more
Simon Pockley
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
For anyone feeling despair, there is hope...just finished Charles Massy's 'Call of the Reed Warbler', a wonderful synthesis/overview of the work of many people I admire (and lots I hadn't known about) who are working to regenerate the soil/earth. Although it's a bit short on detail and grazier/farmer centric, it's a book brimming with inspiration and quiet, tenacious intelligence. ...more
Laughing Cavalier
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture - A New Earth by Charles Massy is an inspirational, timely and significant book about one of the most important subjects facing the world. How are we going to feed the world’s growing population within ecological limits and regenerate degraded landscapes?

Charles Massy’s life experience and expertise make him ideally equipped to address this issue. He is a 5th generation Australian sheep farmer, scientist, and, as the book demonstrates, a gifted and evo
Boy Blue
I should preface this by saying I enjoyed the book a lot and it certainly gave me some anecdotal evidence of sustainable agriculture in Australia.

Interestingly the first of Massy's companions in New England says he believes the Aboriginals may have overburnt the land. This small passing comment sits there completely ignored and unexplored. Massy early on stated that Bill Gammage's firestick theory from "The Greatest Estate" is correct and was the ideal way to manage the Australian ecosystem at t
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Call of the Reed Warbler is absolutely breathtaking. In scope. In detail. In its vision of a new form of agriculture, a new world.

An article I read recently dovetails neatly with Charles Massy's vision—it included the important observation that climate change is a symptom, and should be treated as such. Efforts to address climate change, therefore, are likely to often be misguided, even counter-productive at times (see REDD++ schemes), and any initiatives which don't address the underlying caus
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly informative and well written book that EVERY farmer, every person really, should read. Not only does Massy prove - via many case studies across Australia - that regenerative agriculture CAN succeed over huge expanses and CAN feed the world, but he shows that there are many ways to achieve this change from industrial (pesticide ridden monocultures) to regenerative (soil restoring, organic) farming. He offers hope in an increasingly hopeless time. I cannot emphasise the importance of ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read books on regenerative agriculture and agrarian philosophy like this, but none so specific to Australia; their colloquialisms at times threw me in a fun way. Found the context of Australia’s unique geological and aboriginal history useful for understanding why a book like this had to be written. My only major concern is the contraposing of regenerative ag vs. capitalism. Regenerative practices can increase profitability; big ag is going to go this direction to some degree. The problem i ...more
Rob O'Hearn
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This timely and revolutionary book quietly slipped into shelves in 2017. But it is not a quiet book.

Massy takes true aim at our agriculture and food production and calls for a revolution. The old paradigm of exploitation must be overthrown, and replaced by a more holistic and intelligent approach to the land. We have been caught up in a mechanistic mindset that has taken us to a dead end, and our ravaged land requires urgent action if it is to sustain us.

But Massy is no anarchic theorist. He i
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
How the regenerative farming movement transformed Charles Massy's sheep station
Australian Story / By Susan Chenery and Vanessa Gorman

Charles Massy says property owners have been over-grazing and over-clearing for too long.
On a still autumn morning in 2016, Charles Massy walked up a hill above his farm to sit beside a favourite old snow gum.

High up on the Monaro plateau that runs off the flank of Mount Kosciuszko he could see his homestead and the native brown grasses on his farm dusted with fros
Lee Baker
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read book for all who care about the future of the Australian landscape. Beautifully written with love for the land on display in each new chapter.
Nick Lucarelli
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit dense for an argiculturally layperson like myself, but nonetheless an insightful read on what farming could and should look like. Particularly relevant given the current drought
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally I finished Charlie Massy's regenerative agriculture tome!

It's a wonderful and sweeping journey through the growing movement of regenerative agriculture, with a particular focus on the stories of amazing pioneers reinventing their lands in Australia. Massy's writing is urgent, provocative, emotional and powerful and I particularly enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of restored, self-organising ecosystems on regeneratively managed farms.

My only quibbles with the book are that it is prohibi
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I will never rake up a leaf or stick again without thinking of all I learnt in this book. I am now lending it to the grazier who has a property near mine. Then when I get it back, it will go to the next farmer. It is an inspiration.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Warren Gossett
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and poignant story of a farming family’s work over the past four decades to begin restoring their 5 generation held farm in high tablelands south of Canberra in moderate to low rainfall country. The land needs restoring after the 19th and 20th century years of tree clearing, overstocking of sheep and cattle, clearing of native grassland for super phosphate and fertiliser style cropping. A typical Australian story. Charles Massy and similarly inspired farmers offer regenerative farmin ...more
Nicole Rogers
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book has a greatly profound effect and really gets you thinking. This is one of those. A great dive into the life and mind of an Australian farmer with experiences of the typical Western approach to agriculture in an Australian landscape, how that failed him and the landscape and its biodiversity and this way of farming’s impacts and implications for human health. A wonderful exploration of the turnaround in his and others mindsets in creating a more regenerative approach to creating ...more
Patrick Turnbull
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for anybody. Incredibly useful for those involved with agriculture or interested in it - yet equally important for someone who hasn’t the faintest idea about agriculture and farming. Charlie Massy manages to tread through some complex scientific areas and create a relatable and accessible story of life. Immensely powerful messages in this book about key themes moving forwards - health, culture, food, the environment, love, life and despair.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Essential for Australian farmers wishing for their pastures and reduce inputs
Matt Ralph
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Call of the Reed Warbler

What I love most about this book is the variety of good quotes Charles Massey has gone out and found for me.
As many nuggets as I could fit here, I have put below.
This is an ambitious, beautiful work, that in it's energy and zeal pushes beyond the bounds of its primary topic.
As a result, I'm unsure of the rigor from the philosophical perspective, but forgive any shortcoming in this respect
for the sake of what it does well: the revelation of life beneath and in the soil;
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Friends: "How was your weekend?"
Me: "Great! I read a 700-page book on agriculture"
Friends: …..

Don't be fooled: this book is long, winding, often technical and sometimes silly but it is a thoroughly pleasurable read. Massy uses his own theory of regenerative agriculture to introduce a range of practitioners of different techniques. He has structured the book in a way highly accessible to non-farmers, by grouping around basic concepts of sun, water, soil etc. He has a gift for telling the stories
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
A dense yet fascinating account of the long and often lonely journey for the pioneers of 'restorative agriculture' as Massy calls it, a natural, healthy and sustainable alternative to the modern day mechanical, monocultural, chemical-driven approach to global food and fibre production. the idea of farmers and graziers working intelligently with nature - as opposed to the colonial mindset of subduing nature - is a core theme. Opening with an historic account of how landscapes formed and farming e ...more
Adam Johnson
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My goodness! This is a beast of a book, a wonder of a book. A book that, for all its prodigious heft, takes the reader on a grand tour through the practice of regenerative agriculture. A tour that takes in the learned experience of a great many farmers, and comes out the other side with clear conclusions about the complex creative system that is this planet.

It's a book, ultimately, about hope. Rather than living with the ill-health, the buggered planet, the stripped bare mental health and strung
Alexx Stuart
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
People keep fighting about vegan vs meat but there is so much so much pain in both options in terms of destruction, human and animal cruelty (factory farming and grain feeding in meat production causing much cruelty to animals and much deforestation for the grains/soy the intensively farmed animals eat), and then slow death in rape-and-pillage style monocropping acgriculture of plant foods, slapping the word vegan on a product that contains unsustainable palm oil, one of the biggest killers of a ...more
Liam Everson
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Call of the Reed Warbler delivered a beautifully inspiring and factual approach to land and self regeneration.
Quite simply Charles Massy describes how we manage the land from the consumer level to the farming level, sharing some extraordinary stories of ‘emergent mind farmers’ around Australia and internationally. From landcare to our own physical and mental health, there is great depth to the consequences of industrial agriculture.
The call to break the chain of generational farming and move to
Mikayla Imrie
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
A long read for me, not because I didn’t enjoy it but because there were so many elements I wanted to do memorise and keep with me. A truly inspiring read on the potential of regenerative agriculture. Very valuable for every farmer or land carer, however insightful for those passionate for preserving the environment. A subject I have not been privy to in my studies however equipped me with the knowledge and solutions to go forward. Beautiful quotes and an inspiring man on the quest to protect ag ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was going to be nature writing and when it turned out to be about regenerative agriculture in Australia I almost quit. I am so glad I didn't! Because agriculture is also about nature and I learned quite a lot about ways farmers are regenerating land that has been destroyed by mechanical agriculture that kills the soil and requires gallons of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides both of which degrade the soil even more. The writing is great. There are pages of resources and book for ...more
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