We walk on it, dig into it, and build with it. We depend on it to grow food and clothing, filter water, and support natural ecosystems. Soil is essential to life. Join the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America in celebrating soil! World Soil Day is celebrated every year on Dec. 5. The day focuses attention on the importance of protecting soil as one of our valuable, natural resources.
You can make a difference, too! Check out the top 5 ways we can support soil.
1. Reduce food waste
The food we buy at the grocery store impacts the entire food supply system. One of the easiest ways we can support the soil is by limiting the amount of food that ends up in our garbage. All the food that ends up in our shopping carts requires land, water, nutrients, and energy to produce. By consuming more and throwing away less, we will prevent valuable nutrients from ending up in a landfill!
2. Eat a diverse diet
By eating different types of foods, we can help create demand for a wide variety of agricultural products, which is better for soil. Food diversity helps with biodiversity and soil fertility when land is used to grow multiple crops. For protein sources, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends varying “your protein routine.”
So maybe our eyes were bigger than our appetites at the grocery store, and we end up with food we can’t finish. Instead of throwing it in the garbage, consider investing in a compost system! Composting can return nutrients in food back to nature. And, compost will be great for our gardens next growing season.
To learn more about our first three tips, read “What is ‘soil friendly’ eating?” on SSSA’s Soils Matter Blog.
4. Read labels on lawn and garden products
Walking through the aisles of any home improvement or garden store, there is a seemingly endless array of products for our lawns and gardens. No matter which product we end up selecting, the most important step before applying is to thoroughly read the label and all instructions. Over- and under-application of the product can both cause problems.
5. Perform soil tests
If we are looking to fertilize our lawn or garden, we need to know what nutrients are already in the soil before applying more. We might be able to save money and apply less fertilizer. Or, we might just need to add one specific nutrient, and not others. A simple way to get reliable results is to have our soil tested. Local university extension services can help provide information on testing soil. It’s usually a matter of scooping up soil from a few areas of the yard and sending it in to the lab!
To learn more about our last two tips, read “What should I consider before using fertilizers and pesticides at home?” on ASA’s Sustainable, Secure Food Blog.
The American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America wish you a happy and sustainable World Soil Day! Don’t forget to do your part to support our valuable, natural resource.