Soil mostly is the loose material that covers the earth and naturally they act as a medium for agriculture and the growth of plants. It also supports the ecosystem. Soil can be of many types depending on color, texture, consistency, and bio characteristics.
In this article, you will read all about soil and its importance on the Earth.
What is Soil?
Soil is an active upper layer of the earth’s crust that contains both organic and inorganic matter. Soil is essential for life on earth and contains minerals, organic matter, and microorganisms. Earth’s surface is covered with 30%land and 70% water, In that only 7.5 % of the land is covered with agricultural soil.
Soil is derived from the Latin word ‘solum’ meaning earthly matter or ground.
In short, soil contains air, water, minerals, and organic matter (dead and living). Soil is formed based on Climatic conditions, Location, parent material, and micro and macro-organisms. The above said eight factors make or break the most essential natural resource on our planet. It takes more than 100 years to form soil. There are 6 major types of soil based on texture and 12 soil types based on climatic conditions. A soil type is based on texture, structure, and color. Soil is a non-renewable resource and is limited.
What is Healthy Soil?
As we know what soil is, let us know what makes healthy soil.
- Healthy soil is deep and enriched topsoil with balanced nutrients
- It also has proper water-holding and draining capacity
- This soil is porous and has a proper pH.
- Healthy soil should have 45% mineral, 25% Air, 25% water, and 5% organic matter.
- If you dig a scoop in your soil and find earthworms or fungi, then your soil is healthy.
- If the roots are spread out and with enough plant growth then also it suggests that your soil is healthy.
- Healthy soil will have no smell at all.
- Healthy soil should have a dark brown, red, and tan color.
- The healthy soil should have a pH of 5.5 to 7.5 and is very easy to work with.
According to USDA, Soil health research has determined how to manage soil in a way that improves soil function.
The main principles to manage soil for health are:
- Maximize the Presence of Living Roots
- Minimize Disturbance
- Maximize Soil Cover
- Maximize Biodiversity
How Does Soil Form?
Soil is formed from the parent rocks through the process of natural erosion and changes in the factors such as climate factor, soil age, organisms, and time. The process of formation of soil is called Pedogenesis. It takes more than 100 years for soil to form and is not recoverable, however, the soil is a finite resource.
Soil is formed from the breakdown of rock with climate changes. With some temperature and location influence, the soil will break down with the help of decaying plants and animals. Thus giving the minerals to soil from rock.
Soil age depends on the nutrient content in the soil and the slow wash-up of topsoil. There can be many events that interrupt the life cycle of soil such as volcanic eruptions, natural disasters and depending on the condition in which soil is formed and located. It is to be noted that the environmental conditions that affect soil formation are climate, Organisms, place, parent material, and time.
What is Soil Made 0f?
- Soil is made of air, water, minerals, organic matter, microorganisms, and gases.
- Soil has 6 horizons, each holding an alphabet as the name. Soil horizon O, A, E, B, C, R.
- Soil horizon O is made up of organic matter or humus.
- Soil Horizon A is the topsoil. It has a combination of organic matter and mineral sand that is best for growing plants.
- Soil horizon E is a complex layer that contains all that can’t leach away things like quartz silt particles, and other materials.
- Soil horizon B is the subsoil layer. All of the materials, such as minerals that are leached from the soil horizons A and E, make up this layer in the soil profile.
- Soil Horizon C is the parent material layer.
- Soil Horizon R is made up of bedrock which is just rock and not soil.
Why is Soil so Important?
Soil is important because it is the only source where plants on the earth grow. Soil plays a major factor in controlling air quality and water quality. It purifies both air and water on earth. Soil is a place of living for many plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms. Soil helps in the recycling of waste. Soil provides ecosystem services and critical services for life. Soil supports root growth with its water content and nutrients.
Why Do Plants Grow in Soil?
Plants grow in soil because of their enormous benefits such as heat, water, air and nutrients, minerals which help in the growth of a plant from the seed to mature plants. They also have a soil food web on which a diversity of organisms live. The tiniest bacteria, algae, and fungi to more visible worms and insects. These organisms live and die in the soil. They help plants get air, clean water, and healthy plants. These microorganisms decompose plant and animal waste. They also enhance soil aggregation and porosity, making soil erosion resistant.
Why Do Plants Need Soil?
Plants need soil because the soil has nutrients that help plants survive such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Plants get their nutrients from the soil through their roots making soil a medium. Plants in soil are a better place for growing.
Plant bodies are made of seven elements: hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur. Carbon and oxygen the plant can get from the air, and hydrogen the plant can get from the water. The other four plants need to get it from the soil instead.
Some water plants don’t need soil to grow. Such types of plants are grown from water mixed with NPK nutrients. These types are best used in small spaces, with less soil availability and sudden climate-changing places.
Unlike soil farming, hydroponic farming uses less water and is reusable. Plants do need soil for growth but there are also other ways to do farming for plant growth.
Soil survey, or soil mapping, is the process of classifying soil types and other soil properties in a given area and geo-encoding such information. It applies the principles of soil science and draws heavily from geomorphology, theories of soil formation, physical geography, and analysis of vegetation and land use patterns.
How do Plants Protect Soil?
Plants protect the soil by absorbing excess water from the soil and preventing it from getting waterlogged. Plants sometimes over absorb water and help soil get waterlogged. Even though every soil has its capacity to hold water, plants do help the soil.
They protect the top layer of the soil against erosion. The roots of the plants spread long and deep into the soil and hold a strong grip on the soil, helping the soil from erosion. Plants act as a shed to the soil and reduce evaporation. The roots of plants help in providing channels for water transport.
They help in contributing plant litter which adds organic matter to the soil. The organic matter which is added to the soil doesn’t just help soil but also plants and inversely plants help soil when they require nutrients or are in deficit.
Plants rot to become humus for the soil. The dead plant waste mixed with the soil makes the best natural fertilizer for the soil.
According to the department of agriculture, Clay soil should not be more than 0.002 mm, silt is 0.05 mm, and is 0.50 mm. upper limit.
How Does Soil Affect Earth?
Soil does affect the earth indirectly and directly in many ways. Keeping in mind that soil is not renewable, not in the lifespan of a human. Soil is a basic need for humans just like air and water as they provide food. 95 % of our food is directly or indirectly from the soil. Without soil or soil pollution will greatly affect the earth and the living things in it. Soil pollution can also cause a chain reaction of affection one by one and destroy all. Soil pollution leads to contaminated water, and bad plants and crops. All these lead to health problems in every living thing on earth.
Soil pollution affects everything around it, water and the economy of its food grade. It is invisible and becomes a natural disaster. They put our life at risk as well as farming. Staying aware of soil pollution and preventing it is the only way to protect soil and everything depending on the soil.
What Will Happen if there is no Soil?
There will be no life on earth if there is no soil. Without soil, there would be no food cycle on earth. Since everything and every life on earth is linked with soil, there is no way of survival without it. Everything that humans, plants, and animals eat comes from the soil. Wildlife plants mainly need healthy soil because of its usage for other living things.
If there is no soil on earth, there won’t be any life of plants if there are no plants and trees, no food for humans, animals, and every living thing on earth. Soil is home to millions of organisms which helps in balance food chain management.
Soil is known to form when the earth is formed. Soil is the pioneer of all the natural resources which should be preserved. Soil helps all living beings on earth and is essential for life on earth. Soil is filled with minerals and nutrients which are the source of food. Without soil, life on earth is impossible.
1. What are the three important things for healthy soil?
The three things are compost, earthworms, and plant waste. Compost and plant waste provides nutrients to the soil which is given with the work of earthworms.
2. Can we run out of soil?
Yes, some say that we might run out of soil if it is not used correctly.
3. What is the study of soil called?
The study of soil is called pedology.