We tell you curiosities about the soil, that thin layer of material that is found on the surface of the Earth … because the knowledge of it is the best way to practice its sustainable management.
What is the soil made of? The soil is the fertile layer that covers the earth’s surface and consists of solid, liquid and gaseous elements. The solid particles are formed by minerals, organic remains and microorganisms. On the other hand, the liquid and gaseous constituents are found in the internal holes (pores).
The presence and interaction of all these constituents make the soil a unique and essential system for the development of life in ecosystems. Where does the largest known living organism live? A single colony of the Armillaria ostoyae mushroom weighs about 100 tons and occupies an area of about 9 square kilometers.
However, it is not the only species that inhabits this ecosystem, since there is no place in nature with a higher concentration of species than the soils, where a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity is found.
Did you know that 95% of the food comes from the soil? The soils are fundamental for the vegetation that is cultivated or managed to produce food, fibers, fuels or medicinal products. 95% of our food comes from them. Healthy soils are the basis for the production of healthy foods. What processes develop in the soil? Soils and organisms that live in them offer a multitude of services such as the decomposition of waste, the release of nutrients, the improvement of soil structure and the biodegradation of pesticides and other chemical products. They act as a sink for greenhouse gas emissions and fight plant-borne pests and pathogens transmitted through the soil, benefiting human and animal health, including digestion and immunity.
What is the relationship between soil and CO2?
About 85% of CO2 in our atmosphere comes from the action of microorganisms that feed on the organic matter in the soil. It contains about three times more carbon than vegetation and twice as much as present in the atmosphere, according to FAO data.
What is humus?
Soil organisms act on organic matter by decomposing it and transforming it, generating very fertile substances that are called humus. This fertile layer performs functions such as improving the structure of the soil, helps aeration and water retention and regulates the contribution of nutrients to plants.
Did you know that 1 centimeter of soil can take between 100 and 1,000 years?
Soils are a non-renewable resource, their conservation is essential for food security, the maintenance of ecosystems and a sustainable future. The soil must ‘compete’ with buildings, roads and landfills and, as if this were not enough, it is vulnerable to pollution and the effects of climate change. Often, the soil loses.
Did you know that one third of the planet’s soils are degraded?
Erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, chemical contamination and depletion of nutrients are the main causes of soil degradation. An evolved soil, which may have taken thousands of years to develop, could be degraded in depth after a few years of inadequate agricultural use. In these circumstances, their destruction or erosion cause desertification. This process nowadays affects a quarter of the total surface of the globe.