Where Would We Be Without Soil?
According to one soil scientist, we’d be “hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless and breathless”. Soil is responsible for what we eat and drink. Our food comes from the soil – even fish and other aquatic life depend on nutrients from the soil. Soil filters and stores the water we drink. It helps to keep us warm and dry. Much of our clothing and many of our buildings are made of materials grown or taken from the soil. Even the air we breathe has a soil connection – plants that make oxygen grow in soil.
Soil keeps more than just humans alive. It is a habitat for 25% of the Earth’s biodiversity. Soil is home to creatures we can see like insects and earthworms. It is also home to bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms – billions of microorganisms. There are more living things in one teaspoon of soil than there are people living on the earth!
Soil & Ecosystem Services
The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ holds true with soil. Many important processes happen under out feet every day. These ecosystem services are crucial to our planet. Soil and soil organisms break down wastes and recycle nutrients. Soil helps store water and improves our resilience to floods and droughts. Soil even helps with climate change – there is more carbon stored in the soil than in all of the plants, animals and air above the ground.
Soil Is a Non-Renewable Resource
Considering so much of the Earth is covered with soil, it is easy to think of it as a never-ending resource. However, we need to protect and look after soil. It takes a very long time to make soil – hundreds to thousands of years to form just one centimetre. Soil is lost to erosion, pollution, and being sealed over by roads, houses or parking lots.