The Importance of Soil in Nature and our Gardens

soil

Soil can be very often underappreciated in our daily lives. Nonetheless, it is a true natural wonder that plays a critical role in our existence on planet earth.

Soil is not something dead, or without life. On the contrary, research has shown that thousands of species of tiny organisms live in even the smallest amount of soil. Incredibly, a lot that happens in the earth beneath us often goes unnoticed. Scientists have also estimated that we have only understood and explored a small portion of all the life contained underground.

The microorganisms in the soil produce compounds that are used by people in the production of antibiotics for human use. This means that soil, found in gardens and fields across the world, is also used for medicinal purposes.

closeup photo of sprout
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When discussing the importance of soil, it is also important to mention one of the most important creatures living in it: earthworms. These animals play a crucial role in many gardens and contribute to making and sustaining soil. As they move across the soil underneath us, they create breathing holes. One may say that these act as lungs for the soil. Furthermore, this movement by earthworms enables plant roots to grow and help contribute for the soil to remain alive.

Another important living organism is fungi. Fungi and plants depend on each other for their survival and growth, as plants give fungi carbon dioxide to help them grow, whilst fungi give nutrients to plants. This is a true reflection of the delicate, intricate and interconnected ecosystem that we all form part of.

Soil also provides people with most of the food products that we need to survive. It is for this reason that we also need to show appreciation for soil. We need to value, protect and nurture soil as the important earthly element that it is. Let’s keep in mind that a few millimetres of soil can take hundreds of years to form but can be destroyed by people within seconds if we are not careful.

The age of soil on earth varies from billions to a few thousand years old, depending on where it is found on planet earth. Soil is an important carbon store too, locking in carbon safely in volumes larger than that of trees.

Tree in soil with roots
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Unfortunately, many believe that the human race is failing to protect the incredibly slow-growing soil, through urbanisation, chemical spills, landslides, erosion, intensive farming and more.

Through intensive farming only, we are losing soil at a much faster rate than can be re-built. Apart from that, we are losing a lot of the carbon that soil had stored for us over millions of years.

Poor regulations or poor data does not help the case in favour of soil.

We grow thanks to soil, build on it and from it. It helps in water cleaning and can reduce flooding. It is an active habitat that plays a critical part in the nitrogen and carbon mechanisms of planet earth. Without soil, our lives would not be possible. Gardeners and farmers rely on it to produce food & crops. We also need it for wood, a critical resource in industry.

All of this thanks to its ability to store nutrients and anchoring roots.

All of the above shows how we all need to play our part and fight to protect this delicate treasure found under our feet, in our gardens and in our daily lives.

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