World Soil Day 2018

World Soil Day 2018

World Soil Day 2018 — World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on December 5 as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil.  The program advocates for the sustainable management of soil resources.

Soil components(not-so) Fast Soil Facts

What is soil?

Soil is the upper layer of the Earth’s crust. It is composed of mineral particles, organic matter, water, air and living organisms.  Soil is what plants and animals depend on for food and life.

Are there different kinds of soil? 

North Carolina's Cecil soilThere are 70,000 different types of soil in the U.S.  Cecil, for example, is a dominant soil throughout North Carolina.

The Cecil series consists of very deep, well-drained, moderately permeable soils on upland ridges and side slopes. These soils formed in material weathered from felsic, igneous, and high-grade metamorphic rocks. Slopes range from 0 to 25 percent.

The Cecil series is on the National List of Benchmark Soils and is a Hall of Fame Soil. In addition, a monolith of the series profile is on display at the International Soil Reference and Information Centre in Wageningen, The Netherlands.

In the U.S., find soil survey information for specific regions here.

Spoonful of soilWhat things live in soil?

Living things in soil include archaea, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, algae, protozoa, and a wide variety of larger creatures.  These include springtails, mites, nematodes, earthworms, and ants.  A single teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to one billion bacteria, plus several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes.

Why is soil important?Why is soil important?

Soil provides ecosystem services critical for life.  Soil acts as a water filter and a growing medium.  It provides habitat for billions of organisms and contributes to biodiversity.  In addition, soil supplies most of the antibiotics used to fight diseases.

Humans use soil as a holding facility for solid waste, filter for wastewater, and foundation for our cities and towns.

Most importantly, soil is the basis of our nation’s agroecosystems, providing feed, fiber, food and fuel.

Pollution damages soilWhat pollutes soil?

Industrial wastes such as dust, gases and chemicals fall to the ground from the air.  Pollutants like agricultural pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and insecticides are sprayed directly onto soil.  Chemicals and waste in the water seeps into the soil from runoff, streams, rivers and ponds. Soils near roads have high levels of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other pollutants because of the exhaust from automobiles.

READ MORE:  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s World Soil Day website