Blog Post

The importance of soil

Introduction

Soil is such a thin layer on the Earth’s surface. Yet, it is vital. Soil is much more than the layer between the atmosphere and the bedrock below. Soil plays a crucial role in life on Earth, and its significance goes beyond being that material below our feet or the medium in which plants grow.

So here goes a question for you: have you ever wondered why soil is so crucial for us and for our well-being? The answer might well be a ‘no’, but don’t worry. We often gravitate towards the more visible aspects of nature, like water bodies or forests, mesmerized by their beauty. So, let’s try and change your perception here because soil is indeed fascinating.

What is soil?

Soil is a non-renewable resource that is pivotal for life: made of minerals, organic matter, water, air, and organisms. It underpins food production, combats water scarcity, and delivers essential ecosystem services. These services include the supply of raw materials, filtration of contaminants, regulation of water, nutrient cycles, climate, and biomass production, essentials to all other resources and living beings.

Consider this fact: just one gram of soil can support up to 10 billion organisms. This means that there is more life in a teaspoon of soil than people living on the planet. Imaging the bustling metropolis beneath our feet, teeming with life that sustains our very existence.

The functions of soil

One vital function of the soil is to act as a carbon sink, absorbing and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. This process is essential for mitigating climate changes as it helps to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Moreover, soil plays a fundamental role in nutrient cycles essential for plant growth and ecosystem health, such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cycles. It acts as a reservoir for these vital nutrients, facilitating their gradual release in a way that nurtures life above and below its surface.

Life in the soil is equally fascinating and diverse, from microorganisms to insects and small mammals, all contributing to ecosystem fertility and health. These inhabitants play a crucial role in the decomposition of organic matter and the formation of nutrients needed for plants.

In addition to its biological functions, the soil plays an essential role in water control. It acts as a natural filter, purifying water and regulating its flow. This is critical for preventing soil erosion, maintaining water quality, and preventing floods.

Importance of soil for agriculture

The soil, in addition to facilitating gaseous exchange between roots and the atmosphere, provides essential minerals and nutrients necessary for photosynthesis, the promotion of plant growth, the development of roots and fruits, the increase of resistance to pests and diseases, and the stimulation microbial and enzymatic activity. Thanks to all these factors, soil makes possible more than the 95% of global food production.

In a world that should ensure the food security of the projected 9.6 billion people by 2050, taking care of soils to keep them productive and healthy remains a formidable challenge for ensuring a prosperous future. In addition, a fertile and well-nourished soil not only promotes robust agricultural practices but also plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change by serving as a carbon sink and water retainer. This highlights the intricate relationship between soil health, food security, and environmental sustainability.

Importance of soil and FENIX project

The FENIX project, recognizing the significance of soil in ensuring the well-being of our planet and future generations, focuses on its study and the development of products that aid in its care and improvement by offering a novel and improved product derived from bio-waste. This innovative solution not only aims to enhance soil quality but also possesses the remarkable capability to retain water, contributing to the overall resilience of ecosystems in the face of floods and droughts.

FENIX stands as a testament to the commitment required to address the intricate challenges facing our soils and, by extension, the sustenance of life on our planet.

References:

Ferreira, C. S., Seifollahi-Aghmiuni, S., Destouni, G., Ghajarnia, N., & Kalantari, Z. (2022). Soil degradation in the European Mediterranean region: Processes, status and consequences. Science of the Total Environment805, 150106.

FAO. 2022. Soils for nutrition: state of the art. Rome. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc0900en UN, 2022. 2022 Revision of World Population Prospects

By: Oria P
Editorial: Lucia Salinas
February 2024