Here at Pathfinders, we truly value soil quality. It is what makes up the nutrients in our foods to nourish our bodies with all it needs. Without improving the soil quality, we don’t have what makes up a properly functioning diet.
Quality soil gives us clean air and water, bountiful crops and forests, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes. Soil does all this by performing five essential functions:
- Regulating water – Soil helps control where rain, snowmelt, and irrigation water goes. Water and dissolved solutes flow over the land or into and through the soil.
- Sustaining plant and animal life – The diversity and productivity of living things depend on soil.
- Filtering and buffering potential pollutants – The minerals and microbes in the soil are responsible for filtering, buffering, degrading, immobilizing, and detoxifying organic and inorganic materials, including industrial and municipal by-products and atmospheric deposits.
- Cycling nutrients – Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients are stored, transformed, and cycled in the soil.
- Physical stability and support – Soil structure provides a medium for plant roots. Soils also provide support for human structures and protection for archeological treasures. (1)
Dynamic soil quality is how soil changes depending on how it is managed. Management choices affect the amount of soil organic matter, soil structure, soil depth, and water and nutrient holding capacity. One goal of soil health research is to learn how to manage soil in a way that improves soil function. Soils respond differently to management depending on the inherent properties of the soil and the surrounding landscape. (3)
As shown above, healthy soil is directly linked to human health as well. When we take care of our land we are taking care of ourselves and the community around us.
If you would like to know more about Iowa soil quality and health, please read here.