Soil sustains life and without it we would be hungry, homeless and naked!
Soil grows 95 percent of the food we eat, yet only 25 per cent of the surface of the earth is made up of soil and only 10% of that soil can be used to grow food.
Much of our clothing is made from materials that come from living things that could not exist if it were not for soil. Fabrics like cotton, linen, wool and silk are made by creatures that only exist because soil does.
Many medicines including antibiotics such as penicillin come from secretions made by soil dwelling bacteria and fungi.
Our homes, offices and schools are built with materials that come from soil and the soil is used as the foundation.
Soil is second only to our oceans as the largest carbon repository on the planet. Soil is also the largest source of organic carbon, a vessel for approximately 75% of the carbon on land. Soil has a natural tendency to store carbon is essential for mitigating and adapting to climate change, as well as improving flood and drought resilience.
Currently we are degrading this very soil that is meant to sustain life. Farmlands are not only paved over by urbanisation but are often poisoned with chemicals. A dependence and overuse of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides reduces long-term soil fertility, causes soil erosion, pollutes water supplies and poisons fragile ecosystems.
There are simple yet affective solutions to rebuild and protect soil:
- Cover exposed soil with a 10cm layer of mulch - straw, dry leaves, even newspaper. Naked soil is dead soil.
- Continuously applying compost to soil boosts its ability to retain carbon. Humus is built from CO2 that would otherwise exist in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
- Prevent soil erosion by growing ground covers to hold soil which in turn prevents water run off.
- Tillage exposes humus to oxygen resulting in carbon loss, as well as contributes to loss of nutrients and its ability to store water. Topsoil is the top 20cm layer of soil which has the highest concentration of organic matter and microrganisms and is where most of the Earths biological soil activity occurs. Tilling destroys this ecosystem called the soil food web.
The whole of creation depends upon the soil, which is the ultimate foundation of our existence. - Friederich A Fallow