Why Is Soil So Important?

Why is soil so important? Here's a clue: That question could never be asked if it weren't for soil...

As discussed on our What is Soil Made Of? page, healthy soil contains water, air and broken down old rocks, plants and animals. Each handful also contains billions of microorganisms that further break down organic material into tiny nutrients that are small enough to be absorbed by plant roots, thus facilitating the cycle of life.

In other words, without healthy soil there would be no plants. And without plants there would be no plant-eating insects and animals (and therefore no animal-eating animals), including you and me. Plants also create the oxygen that we breathe as a byproduct of photosynthesis while gobbling up harmful carbon dioxide.

Soil also serves another vital purpose: water purification. Before pure natural spring water becomes drinkable it first filters through hundreds of feet of topsoil, sediment, gravel and sand where particles and harmful microorganisms are slowly trapped on the water’s way down.

To take the importance of soil even further…

  • Soil traps vast amounts of carbon, thus keeping it from entering the atmosphere and helping to prevent global warming.
  • Much of your clothing is made from materials that come from living things that couldn’t exist if it weren’t for the soil. Check your tags. If you see cotton, wool or silk, the item was made from creatures that only exist because the soil does. Want another example? Linen, which is used to make numerous daily-use items such as tablecloths, napkins, towels, bed sheets, upholstery, clothing and luggage, comes directly from the fibers of the flax plant.
  • Antibiotics such as penicillin come from secretions made by soil bacteria and fungi.
  • In addition to being built upon soil, your house and all other structures were built with materials that came from the soil.
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