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Celebrate the International Year of Soils! Some things you never knew…
The United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils, and it’s high time that we all show the soil a little love.
Soil isn’t just for farmers; the earth beneath your feet and your home, in your watershed, and where your food is grown is important to you, in more ways than you or I may know. Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.”
Take some time in 2015 to contemplate the soil and to be amazed! Did you know that…..
- One cup of soil may hold more microorganisms than there are people in the world. In fact, even a teaspoon of healthy soil may contain more than one billion microorganisms. At NWF we celebrate biodiversity; did you ever think about how much life there is beneath your feet?
- It takes about 500 years to develop every inch of soil. It is amazing how complex the physical, chemical, and biological processes are that work together to make soil. It takes far less time to lose soil through erosion, which is why it is so important that we conserve it, by growing cover crops, for example.
- Playing in the soil is good for kids. Studies have shown that getting a little dirty can be good for a child’s mental and physical health. However, it is important to be aware of the history of your soil; when it has been polluted by human activities, it can hold toxic chemicals. It’s a good idea to get the soil in your garden and backyard tested once in a while, especially in urban and suburban areas.
- Soil is made of stardust. Does that blow your mind a little bit? It’s true! Soil particles are mostly made of rock of the Earth’s crust that has weathered over thousands of years. But where did the rock come from? Volcanic processes, mostly, but even before that….the heavy elements, like iron and nickel, that make up the Earth’s crust formed in a supernova, at the explosive death of ancient stars.
While you ponder these amazing truths about soil, I’ll leave you with a couple of great quotes, courtesy of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service:
“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” — Charles E. Kellogg, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1938
“A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the earth’s hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.” — Wallace H. Fuller, Soils of the Desert Southwest, 1975
And this one:
“We spend our lives hurrying away from the real, as though it were deadly to us. “It must be somewhere up there on the horizon,” we think. And all the time it is in the soil, right beneath our feet.” – William Bryant Logan, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, 2007
Real indeed, Mr. Logan.
Want to learn more about soils?
Read about NWF’s work to improve soil health through cover crops.
Check out NWF’s report, “The Dirt on Dirt.”