Soil

Soil covers the planet and is what connects the million year old rocks to life today. Soli is extremely important in sustaining life on earth. Fifty percent of the soil beneath our feet is just open space. These spaces are filled with air and a little bit of water, which is the perfect place for microorganisms to thrive. Microorganisms sit at the base of our food chain. Without them plants and animals would not be able to flourish. Healthy soil is essential to a healthy ecosystem. When plants consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere the carbon goes through a process called oxidation. The carbon is then released into the soil and supports the life of microorganisms. Soil has many useful qualities that often go unnoticed when talking about the environment. 

Much of the world’s soil has been overused and drained of its nutrients due to over farming. Many agricultural systems are set up so that plants are planted and replanted on the same soil. After time the healthy nutrients and microorganisms that produce plants are drained and the soil is only left as dried up dirt. This creates the problem of erosion. Without strong healthy soil floods, landslides, and other natural disasters are at an increased risk. Strong soil prevents this from happening because of the diverse amount of plants whose roots are deep, holding the ground together. Fungus also covers the ground keeping plants strong by passing nutrients between them. To prevent drying up the soil when farming, scientists suggest mimicking the biology in the soil that occurs naturally. This means getting rid of pesticides and focusing on how crops are produced naturally. 

In the early 20th century the harbor bosh reaction created a synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. It was made after scientists discovered a way to explode nitrogen bombs in the air during World War 2. The green revolution came at a time when many farmers found themselves in need of better soil. The synthetic nitrogen was helpful in yielding more crops faster, however the overall process required more water, land, and fossil fuels to keep up the production. Pesticides also drain into streams and major water sources, which pollutes that area. Now most farmers rely on pesticides to grow their crops. Because of this the problem of polluting water sources and people’s health at risk will continue. The best solution for this is biomimicry. Biomimicry is the concept that if we are able to mimic biology using technology our presence among the environment will be less harmful. In the case of soil, farming should be done so that there is a diverse number of crops. This will increase the stability of the soil and make it last longer. For example, strawberries that usually grow at the base of trees in large forests, should be given trees to live with while they are growing. Increasing the biodiversity of farms will also increase the microorganisms in the soil. This will help give nutrients to the plant and help them grow stronger. It is strange to think that weeds can be beneficial to crop, however it keeps the soil stronger and gives more nutrients to the plant in the long term. Although soil is everywhere, it is easy to forget about. Without soil we would not be here today. It is important to take care of our soil, so that we can sustain a healthy lifestyle while continuing to eat plants. By abolishing pesticide usage the soil can have time to regenerate and grow plants that are naturally supposed to be there. This process will take a long time but it will be worth the effort.

Garden Q&A: Those aren't wild strawberries and those are rose slugs eating  your roses - Baltimore Sun
Strawberry in the wild.