We can see things that live on the soil such as plants, animals and people, but did you know there are a lot of things that live in the soil? Things living in the soil are called soil organisms. Some organisms are big enough to be seen with your eyes, other organisms are so small they can only been seen with a magnifying glass or a microscope. The job of the organisms is to keep the soil healthy. “Springtail” is one of the soil organisms that help keep soil alive and healthy. Soil is a living thing – it is very slowly moving, changing and growing all the time. Just like other living things, soil breathes and needs air and water to stay alive. Healthy, living soil provides us with our everyday needs. Not only the obvious things such as food, grass, plants and trees but also some not-so-obvious things like medicines, paint, paper, ink, chalk and shampoo just to name a few. Soil Sprouts Life – Soil supports all kinds of living activities. It nourishes crops that we use for food and trees that we use for building materials. Wildlife and livestock survive by eating plants that grow on the soil. We build houses and roads on top of the soil. Bugs in the System- An area that includes the soil and all living and nonliving things within it is called a soil ecosystem. If you look at soil under a magnifying glass, you’ll find some tiny critters that are part of a healthy soil ecosystem. They help keep the soil alive and growing. Some of them are especially wanted by farmers to make their soil better for growing plants. Springtail and others like him are good for the soil because they chew up litter like dead grass and leaves into small pieces that bacteria and fungi can decompose.
Decomposition means the pieces are broken down so small they become part of the soil. The decomposed plant and animal material is called organic matter and it is one of the major components of soil. Soil: The Carbon Catcher! – Carbon sequestration is a fancy way of saying carbon storage. Carbon dioxide is a gas that may contribute to global warming if released in the air. Storing carbon can help keep our planet cool. Soil is a great carbon catcher because it holds the roots of crops, grasses, and trees and also catches their fallen residue like leaves and pine needles. Over time, the soil stores more and more carbon keeping the air clean and free of carbon gases. Spring into Action and Keep Soil Alive Conserving and protecting the soil is the best way to make sure the soil stays alive and healthy. We can all do our part in keeping the soil healthy. When growing crops, we can let the unused parts of the plants return to the soil as organic matter. Our food scraps and grass clippings can be placed into a compost bin and put back into the soil when they are decomposed. We can also grow grass and trees to cover the soil and keep it from eroding (blowing or washing away.) Eroding soil pollutes the air and water and makes them unsafe for all of us to breathe and use. “SOIL – It’s more important than you think.”
Prateekshya Mohanty,MSc Agri (Soil science and Agricultural chemistry,SOA, Bhubaneswar)