Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dig It.....Soil Secrets

I left you last time with I "Heart" Soil as the theme borrowed from our friends at the Soil Scientist Society of America .  I felt as though is is only fitting that I follow up with some more of those reasons why I love soil and why everyone must have a deeper understanding and fondness of this critical resource.  I've heard it said many times that soil is the Rodney Dangerfield of the natural resources, because it gets no respect.  Well I'm sharing some information here to drive home why soil deserves our utmost respect! 

I have "borrowed" this information from the National Association of Conservation Districts who have done an excellent job of educating the public about natural resources.  These are excerpts from their highly-regarded "Dig It, The Secrets of Soil" education campaign.  Indiana's own, Susan Schultz, does an excellent job coordinating these efforts for NACD.

Is soil an important ingredient in your every day life?

- The answer is yes, and here are a few reasons why:

Last night you slept in a building built on soil.

You drink water that flows through soil and is cleaned by the soil.

You breathe air that comes partly from plants growing in the soil.

You even wear clothes made from plants that grow in the soil.

Soils make our lives possible. We build on them, play on them, drive on them, eat food grown in or raised on them, take medicines from them, wear clothes we wouldn’t have without soils, drink water that wouldn’t be clean without soils, breathe air we wouldn’t have without the plants and trees growing in soils. The entire earth—every ecosystem, every living organism—is dependent upon soils.

A Few Facts about Soil

-Soil makes up the outermost layer of our planet.

-Topsoil is the most productive soil layer.

-Soil has varying amounts of organic matter (living and dead organisms), minerals and nutrients.

-Five tons of topsoil spread over an acre is only as thick as a dime.

-Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form one inch of topsoil.

-Soil scientists have identified over 70,000 kinds of soil in the United States.

-Soil is formed from rocks and decaying plants and animals.

-An average soil sample is 45 percent minerals, 25 percent water, 25 percent air and five percent organic matter.

-Different-sized mineral particles, such as sand, silt, and clay, give soil its texture.

-Fungi and bacteria help break down organic matter in the soil.

-Plant roots and lichens break up rocks which become part of new soil.

-Roots loosen the soil, allowing oxygen to penetrate. This benefits animals living in the soil.

-Roots hold soil together and help prevent erosion.

Information provided by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service and listed on the Environmental Protection Agency website at

There are some great materials on the NACD website and much more information about Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  Stay tuned for more soil information in the future including NACD's next campaign which is Soil to Spoon!

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