All life on Earth relies on the Soil beneath our feet. Far from being just dirt a single gram can support over 100,000 different living species. We are dependent on soil, to filter our water, provide over 95% food and clean air and store huge volumes of carbon.
However, 40% of our soils are degraded, eroding soils run onto roads and carry sediment into watercourses smothering aquatic life. Subsoil compaction degrades the soil structure meaning our soils can’t hold as much water when it rains, and 300,000 hectares of soil are contaminated in the UK.
What can we do?
There are lots of resources out there to help you better understand and improve the health of our soils.
UKsoils is a group of scientists, campaigners and awareness raising organisations who care about soil health. They want to kickstart a nationwide appreciation and understanding of the importance of soil. Their website will inspire you about soil through videos and films, support learning and help you to act for soils. They also have a range of activities to benefit soils aimed at everyone from farmers and woodland managers to community gardeners and children.
Devon and Cornwall Soils Alliance is combining farmers of lowland mixed farms, academics and consultants to collect data on soil health, water quality, flooding and carbon. The alliance aims to build capacity and capability in soils advice across Devon and Cornwall. They are carrying this work out through a series of feasibility studies on the different soil types in Devon and through advising trainers and mentors.
The British Society of Soil Science are committed to the study of soil. They promote research and education to safeguard the future of soils including through hosting the upcoming World Congress of Soil Science 2022. The BSSS website has hundreds of resources including case studies, videos and education resources.
Join the Great Worm Hunt – Did you know healthy soils have around five million worms per hectare! To work out the health of our soils the BSSS are encouraging everyone to take part in the Great Worm Hunt to find out more about these fascinating creatures that live beneath the ground.
Read about geology and soils in Devon’s State of Environment report [pdf].