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?

How can farmers grow crops in more coarse soils?

Particles of sandy soils generally have a mean diameter between 0.05mm and 2mm. They are the largest of soil particle types – the smaller particles are called silt and clay. A soil that is good for farming consists of a mixture of these particles, allowing for healthy crops. Loam is a particularly good type of … Continue reading How can farmers grow crops in more coarse soils?

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?

What is the California state soil?

As you know, many states have a designated state bird, flower, fish, tree, rock, etc. And, many states also have a state soil – one that has significance or is important to the state. We’ve previously written about New Jersey’s state soil, Downer. The San Joaquin is the official state soil of California.  Let’s explore … Continue reading What is the California state soil?

How can soil scientists tell the history of a location from a soil pit?

There are many reasons why soil scientists dig soil pits. They all revolve around collecting information to address a question or a management problem. And sometimes they hold more questions than answers. Bald Ridge part of Bighorn National Forest, is located at about 10,000 feet in elevation. Credit: Ryan Schroeder In the summer of 2017, … Continue reading How can soil scientists tell the history of a location from a soil pit?

What are soil aggregates?

The ground beneath your feet might seem like a uniform material, but it’s really a mixture of soil particles, organic matter, and other mineral/organic components. For a soil to be healthy, it must have good structure. Soil is made up of a combination of primary particles - sand, silt and clay. These particles can be … Continue reading What are soil aggregates?

How much compost is enough for my garden?

Adding compost to a garden is a good idea. But, like most things in life, is it best to do it in moderation? To answer that question, you need to understand what you are adding and why. Compost can help your soil structure and soil health, and make it easier for healthy roots to grow. … Continue reading How much compost is enough for my garden?

How does the Freeze-Thaw cycle impact soil?

Have you ever seen a heavy, solid rock that’s been seamlessly broken into thin plates by some invisible force? Or have you observed those eerily perfect circular patterned rock formations along mountain slopes? Maybe you’ve noticed mysterious, repetitive mounds scattered through the countryside in the middle of fields. The movement of both rocks and soil … Continue reading How does the Freeze-Thaw cycle impact soil?

What are those wavy bands in the soil?

Editor’s Note: You may have noticed bands in soil along roadsides, or on hikes. Soil scientists refer to these bands as lamellae [luh-mel-ee]. They are interesting areas of soils, formed by various processes, and are quite beautiful. Knowing how they form and how that might impact the area is important to growers, homeowners, road builders, … Continue reading What are those wavy bands in the soil?