Soil matters

“Why bother having a Provincial/State soil?” I was asked on #groundchat.

 It’s a valid question. After all most of us, including gardeners, don’t give soil a second thought, even though we walk on it every day.

 As for the answer to that question, I couldn’t answer it any better than Charles E. Kellogg: 

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” 
Charles E. Kellogg, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1938

Although Kellogg’s statement is absolutely true, many contrarians would dismiss it as vague and therefore, without merit.  So, without further ado, let me tell you exactly how soil affects our lives.

For example:

Soil is the very base of life on Earth. Soil nutrients are essential for plant growth. And those plants in turn feed animals and us.

 Soil also allows farmers to grow fibers that clothe us, food that feed us and animals (livestock and dairy).

 Soil filters our water, keeping our streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater clean.

 Soil supplies most of the antibiotics used to fight diseases.

 Soil is the filter for wastewater.

 Soil is the base material for the best china in the world.

 Soil is the foundation of all beautiful parks and gardens. Parks and gardens provide millions of people relaxation, rejuvenation and recreation.

 Soil is the stuff that home gardeners rhapsody about: it is source of all good edibles coming from the home garden.

And if that list wasn’t enough, soil also tells a story of the significance of soil in our lives.  No one has portrays this better than The Smithsonian with their “Dig it! Secrets of Soil” website.

The site covers all the official/unofficial soils of each State on a postcard format. Besides visuals on location and appearance of the soil, the site also includes fun facts and stories.  The stories give us glimpse at how soil intertwines with our lives.

For example, Mark Twain’s hometown, Hannibal, Missouri, is built on Menfro Soil, which is Missouri’s State Soil. And that New Mexico’s Official State Soil, Penistaja, is a Navajo name meaning “forced to sit.”

Just because soil is out of sight, it shouldn’t be out of mind. The least we can do for soil’s life-sustaining qualities is to honour it by picking an official or even an unofficial State/Provincial soil.

That’s why we bother.



Written by Cristina da Silva
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 in Soils & Growing Media

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  1. Jayne says:

    A new look at soil for me! Very interesting, must look into CT to see if there is a state soil here!

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