What is the Importance Regarding Soil?

This week’s blog was written by Abbey T., a Bucktails alumni. Abbey enjoys studying animals in their natural habitats as well as how their presence is able to impact the environment they live in. She isn’t sure what career she would like to pursue, but she is interested in possibly being a biologist, environmentalist, or doing something in Nature Conservation. Abbey wanted to attend the Academy because she really wanted more experience in conservation and ways that she could apply that knowledge.

You might not think twice about the ground you walk on every day. Whether it is primarily concrete or grass, there is soil present beneath your feet. And there is incredible value in maintaining the health of soil…

One example of humans maintaining soil health is the concept of crop rotation, which provides a seasonal approach of planting different crops that use and return different nutrients to the soil in order to sustain humans with the best possible crop outcome. The healthiest crops provide us with nutrients in turn, when we consume them.

However, soils in a more abstract regard are usually self-sustaining. Each natural environment depends on its soil in order to maintain the plants of an ecosystem, which provides support to the animal species living there. This “self-sustaining” act looks different depending on the biome as well. For example, in a mostly deciduous forest, the soil would be incredibly nutritional. That is because every time the trees go into hibernation and lose their leaves, the process of decomposition occurs which returns nutrition from the leaves to the soil, allowing more plants to grow and further supporting the growth of the trees.

This just reinforces my point made about leaves; it is quite obvious that the usage of decomposition returns nutrients to the Earth, and its soils, so locations that have leaf coverage in the autumn season are bound to be healthy and have more nutrients in their soils.

If a soil’s pH is unbalanced, it is reflective of its environment. Crops will be unable to grow, or weaker, smaller, and less nutritious crops will be the only ones produced. Natural environments may sustain fewer species that depend on plants, which will then affect the predators that depend on preying upon those that feed on plants.

This is a picture of my great-grandparent’s lawn, they live on an old, inactive farm, and it is quite obvious that there is a lack of trees on their property. That being said, there was no added nutritional value to the fields, so during its active farming days, the only initiation of “nutrients” was found through fertilizers. The one they used most commonly was horse manure.

Overall, the most important concept in retaining soil health is making sure the pH of the soil is healthy, at 7.0 (neutral), so that the biogeochemical processes can occur properly. And this healthy pH is what allows ecosystems to thrive in nature, and the maintenance of farmland using crop rotation and fertilizer allows a better production of crops.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.