And Soil Awareness Is Closely Tied to Human Survival

December 5 is coming up and I could probably be safe in saying that not one person reading this knows that December 5 is World Soil Day—a day designed by the International Union of Soil Sciences in 2002 to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human wellbeing. 

Soil, the thin layer that covers the earth’s surface like skin is an undervalued and endangered natural resource.

According to soil expert Winfried Blum, worldwide only 12 percent of the land area is suitable for farming.  That area is supposed to insure food security for 7.5 billion people.


We are destroying soil at a rapid rate in the USA and Europe mostly with our unending quest for a tidy yard. 

By paving the soil

Homeowners play a role in destroying our soil resources. For example, there is a trend in some areas to keep gardens small and put down stones or even pave the yard with concrete.  This soil sealing prevents the ability of the earth to absorb water and eventually kills the microorganisms that live in the dirt underneath.  

By hauling leaves off to landfills

Having leaves hauled off to a landfill is another activity that destroys soil. Essentially by removing leaves from an area you are removing future soil.  Eventually, in order to continue to grow plants in that area, soil will have to be purchased and hauled in.  Ideally leaves should be left where they fall to decompose and eventually make more soil.

By laying down landscape fabric

Landscape fabric is another way that urbanites interrupt the natural processes that take place in the soil.  One of the creatures landscape fabric removes from the soil are earthworms.  Earthworms come up to the surface periodically to eat compost and to breathe.  If landscape fabric covers the surface, earthworms are not able to do this.  Most of them in the area will die and others will move on to another space.  Earthworms are there for us and the soil to aerate it and keep it loose and fluffy for the roots of living plants.  If you’ve ever pulled up this landscape fabric you’ve probably noticed the soil is compacted and hard as a brick—that’s because that soil is essentially dead. 


A great resource for Teachers:

 “Ask a Soil Scientist” program. If you have any question on soils, soil science, and careers in soil science, this is the place to get answers. And, teachers, if you’d like to arrange for a soil scientist to visit your classroom, this is the place to make a request. Your question(s) will be sent to a Soil Science Society of America member, in your region. As our members are volunteers with this program, please allow 24-48 hours for a response.

The Ask a Soil Scientist program has been designed for K-12 teachers, students, and anyone else with general interest soils-based questions. If you are a professional with a soil science question, consider an SSSA Membership - which will provide you access to the Membership and Scientific Expertise Directories. You may also wish to consult with a Certified Professional Soil Scientist. For research questions try searching our journals.

To learn more about the Soil Science Society of America and their commitment to disseminating the science of soils, providing resources to teachers, and serving as a resource to their members, visit     

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