Why is soil so important?
Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about it?
Soil plays an essential role in the Earth’s ecosystem. Without soil, human life would be very difficult.
1. It provides plants with the nutrients they need to grow food, giving us food security.
Soil filters rainwater and regulates excess rainwater, preventing flooding. However, yield depends on the quality of the soil, and many current agricultural practices damage soils.
2. It can store large amounts of organic carbon (CO2), making it a strong ally in the fight against climate change!
Soils contain three times more carbon than the atmosphere or terrestrial vegetation!
3. It acts as a buffer against pollutants, protecting the quality of groundwater.
When rainwater infiltrates the soil, it is filtered during its journey by the different layers of it, sand and rock. Micro-organisms attack the bacteria and viruses in the water, changing its chemical and biological composition and purifying it.
In this way, the soil limits the transfer of pollutants between surface water and groundwater. The result is clean groundwater, which can be used as drinking water. As an added bonus, the water has picked up minerals that are good for our bodies during its journey through the soil. The argument is therefore self-evident: it is necessary to protect the soil in order to enjoy the benefits of the water and to keep the water clean.
4. It also presents a record of past environmental conditions.
Indeed sedimentary rocks are witnesses of past climatic conditions. The climates of very ancient times are reconstructed by studying the latitudinal distribution of certain sedimentary rocks that form under specific climatic conditions (coals, evaporites, bauxites).
The principle of actualism is thus applied: it is postulated that the conditions of formation of a given rock have remained the same over geological time.
It is also important to know that the fossils present in the soils also make it possible to reconstitute past environments; they are also climate indicators.
5. It is a habitat for millions of species.
Soil is a living environment in which many organisms evolve. Its quality depends to a large extent on the activity, diversity and balance between the various living organisms that make up the soil. From the largest to the smallest, each one fulfils functions that are essential to the life of the soil, and therefore to that of the plant.
What can we do to protect the soil?
Eat organic: pesticides damage soil, living organisms and pollute water.
Ask around to find producers, farmers who grow without pesticides. Also pay attention to food packaging and try to find the keyword “pesticide free”.
Reduce food waste: don’t throw away all those precious nutrients! Reduce the amount of food produced and eat it all!
However if you have any organic waste left over, think about composting. Give back to nature what it has given you. We have lots of articles on our website about composting, please check them out if you want to start composting but don’t know where to start.
Eat diverse: diversity is great for the soil, there is no worse than monoculture.
The food you buy at the grocery shop also has an impact on the whole food supply system. Food guides now recommend varying your protein sources. By eating different types of food, you will help create a demand for a wide variety of agricultural products, which is better for the soil.