How do soils and humans impact one another?

Soils are a finite resource, and only renew over centuries or millennia. Soils provide many “services” to humans, yet it is largely an ignored resource. Some of the services soils provide are: Capturing and cleaning rain and snowfall,Providing structure to grow our food,Holding carbon in the form of organic matter (carbon sequestration), andProviding a home … Continue reading How do soils and humans impact one another?

Are there soil microbes under my fingernails?

If you’ve been gardening without gloves lately, then the answer is probably “yes.” But that is, for the most part, a good thing – besides having to clean your hands! In garden soil there are millions to billions of microorganisms, or microbes. They could be bacteria, fungi, viruses, and archaea. Baseline estimates suggest that there … Continue reading Are there soil microbes under my fingernails?

How is erosion affecting the recovery of the Fukushima area?

On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the unprecedented Tohoku earthquake. It was the largest in Japan’s history, and created a massive tsunami that impacted Japan’s northeastern coast. A result of the earthquake and tsunami was the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This meltdown had immediate and long-term impacts on the area. On … Continue reading How is erosion affecting the recovery of the Fukushima area?

How is San Antonio reducing its solid waste?

Last year, a group of agronomists and soil scientists toured several locations in San Antonio that highlight some new programs and services. Composting can help reduce waste and solve landfill problems. Urban agriculture can reduce the amounts of food deserts and make good use of open urban land. Let’s look at what San Antonio is … Continue reading How is San Antonio reducing its solid waste?

Is lead contamination ancient history?

Lead's use may be – but we still have a lead problem, especially in urban areas. The first extraction of the metal lead from ores was ancient – around 7,000 BCE. In the millennia since, Egyptians have used it in cosmetics, Romans in their pipes, the British in their ammunition, and now every society in … Continue reading Is lead contamination ancient history?

What’s being done to restore wetlands?

Wetlands are fun places to get muddy, enjoy the outdoors, and listen for birdsongs. They provide important habitat for wildlife, and for recreation. You’ve likely seen wetlands on the fringes of lakes, on river floodplains, along the coast, and anywhere else where water accumulates on the landscape. Wetlands are found at the intersection of earth/soil … Continue reading What’s being done to restore wetlands?

Determining the impact of Deepwater Horizon’s spill on soil

Immediately after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill some immediate questions posed were: how bad is the spill in terms of coastal pollution; and,what new technologies could be brought to bear for environmental quality assessment? To evaluate these questions engineers and spill responders were brought in. Their job was to evaluate new and innovative technologies that … Continue reading Determining the impact of Deepwater Horizon’s spill on soil

How did Deepwater Horizon’s spill affect the coastal soils and wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico?

April 2020, is the 10th anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We are dedicating this months’ Soils Matter blogs to the topic of the wetlands and soils, how scientists helped determine and solve some related issues – and where the wetlands are in their recovery. British Petroleum’s Deepwater … Continue reading How did Deepwater Horizon’s spill affect the coastal soils and wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico?

What is phytoremediation?

What could be greener than using plants to clean up polluted soil? Phytoremediation, the use of green plants to repair unhealthy soil, has sparked the curiosity of scientists and plant lovers for decades. Plants can do things that people can’t, like pull pollutants out of soil while leaving the soil in place. Why worry about … Continue reading What is phytoremediation?

Why are petroleum, chromated copper arsenate and radon bad for the soil?

As outlined in our February 15, 2019 Soil Matter blog, natural soil is uncontaminated. Use by humans, especially in cities, can cause some unintended consequences. Long-term exposure to items like petroleum products, chromated copper arsenate and radon can cause problems for humans – and other plants and animals dependent on healthy soils. Petroleum The most … Continue reading Why are petroleum, chromated copper arsenate and radon bad for the soil?