Soil is the supporting system of life on earth in numerous ways. It is the most complex and diverse ecosystem on the earth. Soil contains billions of living organisms, minerals, organic matter, gas and water for plants to thrive. Most of the things that soil contains are really tiny but they play a very important role in soil. Most of these organisms are involved in the decomposition of organic matter which is an important mechanism that stores and releases nutrients and keeps nutrients aligned to the ecosystem. Other than this, these organisms play a vital role in the food cycles which make all life possible. It filters water and makes it drinkable for humans and other living beings on earth.
Do you know that soil is formed from broken pieces of larger rocks? These pieces further break into sand and silt. The size of these rock particles determines a soil’s texture and structure. The process of soil formation is very slow and it takes up to thousands of years to form a very thin layer of soil.
The soil varies from land to land, which means that the soil found in Asian countries will be different from the soil found in European countries and will be different from American and African countries. Different soils support different types of vegetation and also determine the production of the crops. Soil contains many layers which are called soil horizons and each horizon has different properties. On the surface of the soil is the O horizon which is made of organic materials. Soil which is rich in organic material means that it has good porosity and capacity for holding water. Below this is the top soil, which is the top layer of the soil and has tons of nutrients and decomposed organic material. The top two layers of the soil hold majority of biodiversity or all different types of plants, animals and microbes that exist. A majority of our planet’s biodiversity is made up of soil organisms in the ground. Below the top soil, there is a layer which is made up of coarse sand and silt. The last layer is known as the B horizon which is the storage centre for minerals and nutrients that go down from the upper layers.
Why is soil conservation important?
Soil is important for its fertility. The more the soil is fertile, the more it is going to produce crops. It takes hundreds and thousands of years to form different layers of fertile soil. But because of the change in the planet’s ecosystem, the soil has depleted very fast in the last two decades. The population is increasing at an alarming rate which means an increase in the demand for food across the world. To meet this increasing demand, agriculture sectors in different countries are growing multiple crops within a year. Usually, where soil supports only two crops in a year, we are now growing 4 crops in the same time window. All this is leading to soil loss at a much faster rate. With this quality of soil, plants can’t grow on their own and require a huge amount of fertilizers and manure to be added. These crops are certainly not good for human consumption and have major impacts on well being of humans.
So what is soil conservation and how is it done? To understand how to protect soils, we all can do a few simple yet powerful things which will help in improving the soil quality and control soil erosion. Simply just plant grass and trees to secure topsoil. The roots of the plants and trees will hold the top soil and will safeguard it from washing away from water. Governments around the world should support soil-friendly agricultural farming methods to conserve the soil. Farmers should practise no-till farming. We all need to control the population explosion at our personal levels so that the demand for food can be controlled. With the right composition, care and natural cycling, soil can be conserved and protected. We should never take our soil for granted.
Let’s take care of the soil and soil will take care of us! Stay tuned to know more about various sustainable practices.
A Livanam farm commune membership will give you an opportunity to indulge in the soil enrichment process and gain valuable practical learning. Through our efforts, we have converted degraded land into a thriving natural forest. With Livanam Farms, you can experience how to co-exist with nature without harming it.
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