What is Soil?

Soil

Image Credit: Flickr User unitedsoybean, via CC

Maya took some soil from her garden and put it in a plastic bottle. She then added some water to it and shook the bottle hard until it was a muddy mixture. She left this mixture overnight and looked at it next morning.

Guess what had happened to the mixture?

The mixture seperated into layers: the darker bottom layer and the lighter upper layer. Why?

Soil is made up of minerals and pieces of rocks. These rock pieces can be big or small, heavy or light, or even in powdered form. Soil also consists of dead plants and tiny living creatures.

When Maya mixed soil with water all the heavier particles from the soil settled at the bottom while smaller lighter particles remained on top. See the video to understand more.

Soil is made up mainly of four layers known as horizons. Each horizon has unique properties. Look at the picture below.

Image Credit: www.cleanair.pima.gov

Image Credit: www.cleanair.pima.gov

The exposed layer of soil is Humus. This layer is dark in colour hand as it contains mostly organic matter like dead leaves, plants and animals. This layer is packed with nutrients.
Topsoil  is the the top most layer afterhumus. It has ample organic matter and  minerals. It is the layer in which plants grow their roots.
Subsoil is lighter in colour. It has little organic matter but is rich in minerals.
Regolith is made up of weathered rock fragments.

Soil is an amazing product of nature and without which there would be no life. Think about it. Everything we eat directly or indirectly comes from the soil. Can we not say then that soil is one of the building blocks of life? For this reason, it is very important to take care of soil. One way to do that is not to contaminate it with chemicals or plastic waste. Another way is to cut fewer trees so that there is less soil erosion (which depletes it of its nutrients).

And how can we take care of our garden soil. Well, we can replenish it by adding fertile compost made out of organic waste!

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