10+ fas­ci­nat­ing things you may not know about soil

Soil is the silent en­gine that keeps the planet alive, and most peo­ple in the world don’t give it a mo­ment’s thought. Now the world’s soil sci­en­tists have cre­ated a beau­ti­ful at­las that is writ­ten so the pub­lic can un­der­stand why we all need to take care

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Notebook -

These are just crumbs of what you can learn from the first-ever Global Soil Bio­di­ver­sity At­las which maps the soil bio­di­ver­sity of the en­tire planet.

This book pays trib­ute to soil. It has been writ­ten for the layper­son, bring­ing to­gether a huge num­ber of the world’s ex­perts on soil bio­di­ver­sity to cre­ate a unique pub­li­ca­tion.

• Ninety-eight per­cent of all global daily calo­ries de­rive from ac­tions from the soil bio­di­ver­sity. • Soils may con­tain more than 10,000 species per square me­tre. • A sin­gle gram of soil may con­tain mil­lions of in­di­vid­ual cells and thou­sands of species of bac­te­ria. • That bac­te­rial biomass can amount to 1-2 tonnes (the weight of a car) per hectare (2.5 acres) in a tem­per­a­ture grass­land like those found in NZ. • Soil or­gan­isms play a huge part in main­tain­ing crit­i­cal pro­cesses such as car­bon stor­age, nu­tri­ent cy­cling, plant species di­ver­sity, and a key role in main­tain­ing soil fer­til­ity. • Earth­worms and other soil or­gan­isms en­hance soil pro­duc­tiv­ity by mix­ing the up­per soil lay­ers, re­dis­tribut­ing nu­tri­ents, aer­at­ing the soil and in­creas­ing sur­face wa­ter in­fil­tra­tion. • Earth­worms in­crease crop yields by 25%, on av­er­age. • A typ­i­cal min­eral soil sam­ple is 45 per­cent min­er­als, 25 per­cent wa­ter, 25 per­cent air and 5 per­cent or­ganic mat­ter. • Soil has vary­ing amounts of or­ganic mat­ter (liv­ing and dead or­gan­isms). It is es­ti­mated that 5-10 tonnes of an­i­mal life can be found in 1ha (2.5 acres) of tem­per­ate grass­land soil. • 10 tonnes of top­soil spread over 1ha is only a few mil­lime­tres thick. • Stud­ies have shown that the rate of soil for­ma­tion varies from around 100 years for 2-5cm of vol­canic ash in warm hu­mid cli­mates to 1cm in 5000 years on hard rocks in cool tem­per­ate cli­mates. • Soils are gen­er­ally around 1-2m deep. How­ever, the Phillipi Peat­land in Greece is re­puted to be 190m deep. • The 3000-mil­lion-year-old Nsuze Pa­le­osol in South Africa is the world’s old­est soil de­posit.

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