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Organic matter was once extolled as the essential soil ingredient, but the availability of inexpensive synthetic fertilizers and the mass industrialization of farming after World War II have led to a serious soil crisis. What can we do to increase the vitality of soils today and for future generations? In a live Chats in the Stacks talk hosted by Cornell University’s Mann Library in September 2022, Harold van Es draws from his book Building Soils for Better Crops: Ecological Management for Healthy Soils (SARE Outreach Publications) to explain how soil health has degraded at the global level, and the steps that everyone can take—from home gardeners and small farmers to large agricultural corporations and food industries—to improve and preserve this essential resource. Harold van Es is a Professor of Soil Science in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell, where he teaches upper level undergraduate and graduate level courses in sustainable soil and crop management. Having received his PhD at North Carolina State University, Dr. van Es joined the Cornell faculty in 1988, where in addition to teaching, research and extension he has served as the Chair of the Soil and Crop Sciences Department, President of the Soil Science Society of America, and director of the Cornell Soil Health Initiative and the Cornell Initiative for Computational Agriculture. He is the lead developer of the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health (CASH) framework, which is designed to assist farmers, gardeners, and agricultural service providers in gathering information on a range of key characteristics of the soil they are working with. Professor van Es has been a notable pioneer in advancing innovative digital agricultural technologies, including his lead role in the development of Adapt-N, a computational technology for precision crop nitrogen management that is now widely used through a license with a global crop nutrition company. A wonderful example of, in Dr. van Es’ own