Whether you’re looking to grow in your agronomic knowledge or searching for a gift for the regenerative farmer in your life, you’re sure to find an interesting book recommendation on John Kempf’s reading list. This list was originally published on John’s website. Below is an excerpt of the original article:

Many people have asked me for a recommended reading list of the most pertinent and valuable books I have read. This list is a live list of books that I continue to update.

I have divided them into different (somewhat arbitrary) sections based on how accessible they are and their general topic area.

My preference is to have post-it flags within easy reach as I read, and mark each page with a flag that I want to use as a reference in the future. It is easy to observe how useful a book might be based on the number of flags it has. Most of the books who made it onto this list have hundreds of flags. For the very few which have fewer, they are still on the list because of the importance and relevance of their message.


Foundational Soil & Plant Science

This group of books is very accessible, from my perspective any serious grower will have at least half of them on his shelf. These are pretty much in the must-read category for farmers who want to begin thinking differently and prepare for the agriculture of the future.

Eco Farm – Charles Walters

Science in Agriculture – Arden Andersen 

Life and Energy in Agriculture – Arden Andersen 

Foundations of Natural Farming – Harold Willis

Soil, Grass and Cancer – Andre Voisin

The Organic Method Primer – The Rateavers 

A Soil Owner’s Manual – Jon Stika

The Biological Farmer – Gary Zimmer

Nutrition Rules – Graeme Sait

Humusphere – Herwig Pommeresche

How Soils Work – Paul Syltie

From the Soil Up – Don Shreifer

Agriculture in Transition – Don Shreifer

The Ideal Soil Handbook – Michael Astera


Exceptional Peer-Reviewed Soil and Plant Science References

The books in this group are written by and for academics, rather than for growers, but the information they contain is gold. How much is it worth to you to have a reference book that can tell you precisely why a certain disease organism is showing up, and how you can create an environment so that it is no longer present? If you are an agronomist or a consultant, each of these is a must-read. Reading these books will change how you approach managing soils, crops, and pests.

Soil Microbiology and Higher Plants – NA Krasil’nikov Free PDF Here, This second PDF contains more figures and illustrations.

Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants – Marschner 

Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease – Datnoff, Elmer, Huber

Organic Soil Conditioning, Humic, Fulvic, and Microbial Balance – William Jackson or Here.


The Biophysics of Living Organisms, With Strong Agricultural Implications

The coming agricultural revolution which will supersede the “Green Revolution” will be a revolution of biophysics. We are reaching the limits of chemistry. The information contained in any one of these books will require us to shift our thinking and approach to growing crops. Some of these are more accessible than others. Any one of them will have you on the edge of your seat as you understand the implications.

Bioelectrodynamics and Biocommunication – Ho, Popp, Warnke

The Rainbow and the Worm – Mae Wan Ho

Living with the Fluid Genome – Mae Wan Ho

Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life – Gerald Pollack

Gravitobiology – Tom Bearden 

The Body Electric – Robert Becker 

Cross Currents – Robert Becker 

Tuning in to Nature – Philip Callahan

Paramagnetism – Philip Callahan 

Biological Transmutations – Louis Kervran 

Morphic Resonance – Rupert Sheldrake

The Universal One – Walter Russell

Report on Radionics – Edward Russell


The Biophysics of Water

Water is THE fundamental in agriculture. The information here is so valuable and important, it deserves a section of it’s own.

Living Rainbow H20 – Mae Wan Ho

Living Water – Olof Alexandersson

The Fourth Phase of Water – Gerald Pollack

Nature as Teacher – Callum Coats 

Living Energies – Callum Coats 

The Water Wizard –  Callum Coats

The Fertile Earth – Callum Coats


Plant Communication

The most successful growers are those who connect with their plants, much the same as producers connect with livestock or horses. Stephen Buhner is perhaps my favorite author for his writing style. These books are very accessible and read like a thriller. Many people have said they couldn’t stop reading when they began because the information is so captivating. I have gifted these books a lot.

The Lost Language of Plants – Steven Harrod Buhner 

The Secret Teachings of Plants – Steven Harrod Buhner

Plant Intelligence – Steven Harrod Buhner

The Secret Life of Plants – Christopher Bird


The ‘Culture’ of Agrarian Culture

People laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at them because they are all the same.

– Gabe Brown

The present model of commercial agriculture has adopted a very mechanistic worldview and ethos, with little room for ‘culture’. As we implement more regenerative models our cognition changes. We are present with our plants and livestock in a different way. We begin thinking about the ecosystems we work within, and how we can enhance them. This culture of caring is what consumers associate with farming culture. There are many good books that would fit into this category. Some are exceptional. Here are a few of the exceptional ones.

The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs – Joel Salatin  (A must-read)

Folks, This Ain’t Normal – Joel Salatin 

Grain by Grain – Bob Quinn

Growing a Revolution – David Montgomery 

Dirt to Soil – Gabe Brown

The Unsettling of America – Wendell Berry 

Call of the Reed Warbler – Charles Massey

Nourishment – Fred Provenza


For the most updated version of this list, visit John’s original blog post.