World Soil Day: Stop Soil Erosion, Save our Future!
The Miracle of Soil
1. Soil is the backbone of our food security. Without healthy soils, farmers wouldn’t be able to provide us with feed, fiber, food, and fuel.
2. Just like how a foundation for a home is critical, healthy soils act as a foundation for plants by supporting plant roots and keeping plants upright for growth.
3. Soils act as a pantry for plants, storing and cycling essential nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow.
4. Soils store water for plants. In fact, according to the USDA, “every 1% increase in organic matter results in as much as 25,000 gallons of available soil water per acre.” That’s a lot of water!
5. Soils maintain adequate aeration for plants, providing oxygen for microbes, insects, and plant roots.
6. Soils are habitats for beneficial soil microbes; these organisms are nature’s hidden helpers. They form synergistic relationships with plants to protect them from stress and provide them with nutrients, among other tasks. According to the USDA, “one teaspoon of healthy soil contains, 100 million-to-1 billion individual bacteria alone.”
7. Soils are homes for many other organisms like insects that lay and hatch eggs in the soil.
8. Soils filter surface water of dust, chemicals and other contaminants. This is why underground water is some of the cleanest sources of water. In fact, according to Soils.Org, “through natural processes, such as soil absorption, chemical filtration, and nutrient cycle, the Catskill Watershed provides New York City with clean water at a cost of $1-to1.5 billion, much less than the $6-to-8 billion one-time costs of constructing a water filtration plant.”
9. Healthy soils help protect the plant from climate change. According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, “soils remove about 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions each year.
10. Healthy soils provide farmers with better crop yields and protect plants from stress.
11. When it comes to human health, almost all of the antibiotics we take to help fight infection were obtained by soil microbes.
12. Healthy soils protect the land from erosion.
13. Soil is a nonrenewable natural resource. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it can take hundreds to thousands of years to form a centimeter of soil. But, that single centimeter of soil can be lost in a single year due to erosion.
14. 11% of the total U.S. employment works in the agricultural and food sectors - that’s 2.16 million full- and part-time people working on our soils each day.
15. Soil is made up of 45% minerals, 25% water, 5% organic matter and 25% air.
16. Soil acts as a holding facility for solid waste.
17. Soils help regulate the Earth’s temperature.
18. Healthy soils mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events.
19. Archeologists have determined that many sophisticated civilizations such as the Mayans and the Harappan, fell because they mismanaged their soils.
20. According to Soils.Org, “about 70% of the weight of a textbook or glossy paged magazine is soil”
21. Putting clay soil on your face as a “mud mask” cleanses the skin’s pores.
22. According to the World Future Council, “soils help control weeds, plant pests, and disease.”
23. The best china dishes are made from soil.
24. Soil is the foundation of our buildings, roads, houses, and schools. In fact, soil affects how buildings are made.
25. Soil holds Earth’s history, containing artifacts - from dinosaurs to ancient human civilizations - from our Earth’s past. There’s a lot of history stored in soils!