What does soil health have to do with my health?

The nutrients you get from eating vegetables comes from soil! Credit: Mary Beth Adams
The nutrients you get from eating vegetables comes from soil! Credit: Mary Beth Adams

Healthy humans indeed need healthy soils!

  1. Healthy soils grow healthy, nutrient-rich foods. The calcium in your broccoli comes directly from soil. Wheat kernels contain protein that the wheat plant made with nitrogen present in soils. If the soil is deficient in any of these nutrients, the crops grown won’t be as nutritious as crops grown in healthy soil. If you have a home garden, consider having your soil tested by a local extension service. They can tell you if your home garden soil needs amendments. Another good habit is to rotate the location of your vegetables. Don’t grow tomatoes in the same location each year. Instead, rotate where you put your tomatoes and your peas or carrots. Each of these plants uses nutrients differently, so you’ll be giving your soil a “breather.” You could improve the yield of your garden, and the nutrition of the vegetables and fruits you grow there—and that makes for a healthier you!
  2. Healthy soils are full of biodiversity. Life in soil includes animals you might see, like ants or worms. But, there are also billions of “soil microbes” that you can’t see with the human eye. These microbes live in communities that, for the most part, control the number of “good” and “bad” bacteria. If the soil becomes unhealthy, the bad bacteria can take over, and that can hurt plants and humans that come in contact with the soil. The best way to avoid this situation is to keep your soil healthy with good compost, and amendments if needed. Healthy soils keep the diversity of microbes in good proportions.
  3. Healthy soils keep much of the plant life on the Earth alive. Soils physically hold up the trees in the forest by providing a source for the roots to anchor themselves. Trees get their nutrients and water from the soil. In turn, those trees provide humans with the oxygen we need to survive.

-by Nick Comerford, University of Florida

To learn more, view SSSA’s Soils Support Health video.

To receive notices about future blogs, be sure to subscribe to Soils Matter by clicking on the Follow button on the upper right! Explore more on our webpage About Soils. There you will find more information about Soil Basics, Community Gardens, Green Infrastructure, Green Roofs, Soil Contaminants, materials for Teachers and more.

More educational materials can be found on various SSSA websites:

http://soils4teachers.org/  (K-12 Lesson Plans and Activities)

http://soils4kids.org  (Just for kids!)

http://soils.org/iys (International Year of Soils, with a coloring book and monthly ideas for teachers and scientists!)

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