FarmLife Five: Soil

Let’s get down and dirty, as we dig into the importance of terra firma.

By Jenny Bryant

100 to 1000 years: It can take up to a millennium to create 1 inch of topsoil. Reasons for the variability include the types of available rock (from which much of the soil is formed), climate and vegetation.

Sources: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/wa/soils/?cid=nrcs144p2_036333

50%: A typical silt loam soil contains about 50% pore or void space. Compacted soil can cut crop yields by as much as 50% due to reduced aeration, increased resistance to root penetration, poor internal drainage, and limited availability of plant nutrients.

Source: http://www.soils.wisc.edu/extension/pubs/A3367.pdf

1 Tablespoon: There are more organisms in 1 Tbsp of soil than there are people on earth. Some estimates suggest 1 gram of soil may harbor as many as 10 billion microorganisms.

Sources: www.audubon.org/news/10-incredible-facts-about-dirt

80%: That’s the approximate percentage of antibiotics that were first isolated from soil microorganisms. Still, today, only some 1 in 1,000 soil bacteria have been screened for antibiotics.

Sources: http://naturalsciences.org/exhibits/featured-exhibitions/dig-it

1,400,000: The number of earthworms that can be found in one acre of cropland. One earthworm can pass up to 15 tons of dry soil per acre per year.

Sources: www.audubon.org/news/10-incredible-facts-about-dirt