10 Reasons Soil Is So Important - Backyard Boss
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10 Reasons Soil Is So Important

What would happen to the world if there was no soil? Gardeners love to experiment with it in their gardens, but the importance of soil goes beyond planting. Apart from providing humans and animals with a medium to grow healthy food, it plays a huge role in the lifespan of many man-made constructions, including bridges, homes, and roads.

Things like lumber, textiles, paper, and even medicine thank soil for their existence. It is so important that the year 2015 was declared the International Year of Soils by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This was done so the world could be aware of the importance of soil in everyone’s daily lives.

10 Reasons Soil Is So Important

Besides using it in traditional gardening to grow edible and inedible crops, there’s more to the earth than meets the eye. Here are 10 reasons why soil is an important and crucial part of the environment.

1. Supports Agriculture

a pair of hands digging into soil
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Fertile soils are the backbone of agriculture because they encourage healthy plant growth. Without fertile earth, it would be nearly impossible to grow over 10,000 edible plant species that people consume globally. Apart from supporting agriculture, soil helps break down organic matter and converts them into essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which contributes to healthy plant growth.

2. Provides Anchorage for Infrastructure

construction
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Without soil, infrastructure would crumble because it acts as a base or an anchorage for construction. Apart from that, the concrete, bricks, clay, or mud used to create a house are all different types of soil. This all comes into play when your redoing your landscape or even laying the foundation for your home.

3. Stores Carbon to Mitigate Climate Change

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According to the Ecological Society of America, the soil plays a significant role in mitigating climate change because it stores nearly 75 percent of the earth’s carbon dioxide pool. Without soil, carbon dioxide will increase the global temperature, which will melt ice caps, which will, in turn, raise sea levels. The earth traps carbon dioxide that all living things release when they die, thereby preventing the gas from heating the atmosphere.

Additionally, every year, the soil removes nearly 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions caused by burning fuel for transportation, coal or natural gas for electricity, and chemical reactions caused by producing goods from raw materials.

4. It’s the World’s Water Filter

bird drinking soil water
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Water collects whatever pollution it comes across during its journey to the river or ocean. However, when water flows through the soil, nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium are removed from the water and absorbed by the earth. The water’s organic pollutants are decomposed and are made available for healthy plant growth.

5. It’s the Backbone of the Clothing Industry

organic cotton shrub
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Without soil, it would’ve been nearly impossible to raise and feed livestock that provides leather, wool, and furs that designers use to make clothes. While cotton and linen are plant fibers, silk comes from a silkworm feeding on a silk plant. Therefore, the foundation of textiles is soil.

6. Helps Develop Medicines

testing soil
Image credits: Queensland State Archives via Creative Commons

The soil is home to many medicinal plants and medicines. When you get a cold, the eucalyptus plant can come to your rescue, and when you’re feeling low, chamomile tea can boost your mood.

Apart from medicinal plants, antibiotics like cyclosporine (used for transplant patients) and streptomycin (used to treat many infections, including tuberculosis) are a product that originated from the soil.

7. It’s a Source of Different Raw Materials

Variety of colorful ceramic and plastic flower pots on the shelf in a plant store. Shopping for trendy pot flowers and home interior design concept. Selective focus, copy space
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There are different kinds of soils, each of which has different characteristics and uses. Ceramic plates, clay pots, glass, and even fine China are made from different soil types.

Soil can be modified to make bricks, vases, paint, dyes, and even cosmetics!

8. It’s Teeming With Life

soil on a palm
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The soil is home to about a quarter of the world’s living organisms, including bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms. It also harbors information about the past, with which scientists and experts can learn about the worlds history and cultures. Everyday items, old civilizations, and animals that have long been extinct have their records cemented in soil for archaeologists to discover. As little as 1 tablespoon of soil contains billions of living organisms and bacteria.

9. Roots in Cosmetics

mud in a bowl
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Clay face masks, mud spas, and mud baths are great ways to exfoliate, cleanse, and purify the skin. Cosmetic products use clay and clay minerals to create organic beauty products, including blushes, foundations, face packs, and even toothpaste.

Clay is a type of soil that’s great for the skin and some plants. You can easily improve clay soil to grow other plants that prefer moist, well-draining, and well-aerated conditions.

10. Provides Basic and Luxury Products

logs from trees
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Apart from textiles, cosmetics, and construction, there’s way more to come from the soil around you. Books, furniture, and stationery also come from different trees which grow and thrive in the earths soil. Wine manufacturers can even tell you the role soil plays in a wine’s taste, texture, and aroma — everything must be perfect.

Why Soil is So Important 

Woman hand holding soil in heart shape for planting
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Unlike other renewable resources like hydropower, wind energy, and solar power, the soil isn’t renewable. Mother Nature can take hundreds and thousands of years to create ½ inch of soil from the parent rock, which can be lost through erosion in less than a year. Poor farming practices can also harm the earth.

Poor farming practices include:

  1. Excessive tilling,
  2. Excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides,
  3. Removal of organic matter,
  4. Using poor-quality water for irrigation,
  5. Not growing ground covers when land is vacant,
  6. Not rotating your crops every year or two.

These practices speed up soil degradation and cause it to lose fertility, affecting plants’ healthy growth.

To prevent soil from degrading and losing its fertility, avoid poor farming and gardening practices, add as much organic content as possible, and grow ground covers on vacant farming lands to prevent erosion and nutrient depletion.

Rotate crops every year or two to give your soil a chance to replenish the nutrients the previous crops depleted. Crop rotation also helps prevent weeds, pests, and other diseases that would otherwise destroy your garden.

Ariva-Dirt-chi!

Soil affects the food you eat, the water you drink, and the air you breathe. It affects your health and the health of all other living beings on the planet. It is very important, but unfortunately, it isn’t renewable. It’s important to conserve it because healthy and fertile soil will support living things and organisms for years to come.

Leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comment section! And share with friends and family who might find this helpful.

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