Why are soils important?
Soil is our life support system. Soils provide anchorage for roots, hold water and nutrients. Soils are home to myriad micro-organisms that fix nitrogen and decompose organic matter, and armies of microscopic animals as well as earthworms and termites. We build on soil as well as with it and in it.
Soil plays a vital role in the Earth’s ecosystem. Without soil human life would be very difficult. Soil provides plants with foothold for their roots and holds the necessary nutrients for plants to grow; it filters the rainwater and regulates the discharge of excess rainwater, preventing flooding; it is capable of storing large amounts of organic carbon; it buffers against pollutants, thus protecting groundwater quality; it provides Man with some essential construction and manufacturing materials, we build our houses with bricks made from clay, we drink coffee from a cup that is essentially backed soil (clay); it also presents a record of past environmental conditions.
Soil functions are general capabilities of soils that are important for various agricultural, environmental, nature protection, landscape architecture and urban applications. Six key soil functions are:
- Food and other biomass production
- Environmental Interaction: storage, filtering, and transformation
- Biological habitat and gene pool
- Source of raw materials
- Physical and cultural heritage
- Platform for man-made structures: buildings, highways