But many of us are unaware about the significance of this day. As an environmental science student, I often read about lithosphere where soil is the main component. World Soil day of 2017 was celebrated globally and the aim was to spread message on the importance of soil quality.
We have always ignored to do out part of taking proper care of soil. To many of us, soil is just that sticky brown stuff we walk on everyday. But soil is much more than that! Fitz Patrick (1978) a pedologist from UK defined soil as: “Soil or pedosphere is composed of mineral matter, organisms, water and air, and is regarded as a mixture of the lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere.”
There are four major components of soil. These are mineral matter, organic matter, water and air. By volume their amount of presence is 45%, 5%, 25% and 25% respectively .
Soil contributes to all world’s ecosystems, as well as provides food and other necessities such as water and energy. Important processes like nitrogen fixation, microbial activity, decomposing of organisms all take part in the soil.
Plants require 17 essential elements in their life cycle and they get all of them from the soil.
Soil is the mine of nutrients, which come from the decomposition of plants and decaying animals. The presence of organic nutrients determines the soil health. But excessive use of chemical fertilizers in farming is one of the major causes of the depletion of organic matter from soil.
As deforestation activities are taking place globally, we are not only destroying the plants and trees but also diminishing the soil’s water holding capacity and this is making the soil more vulnerable to pollution or erosion.
We know that 71% of our planet is water and only 29% is land area. And yet we are losing land at an unprecedented rate. Fertile soil is being lost at the rate of 24bn tones a year, according to a new United Nations-backed study.
Also in a recent study, it’s been found that soil pollution is responsible for an estimated one in six deaths globally. Through the increasing use of technology dangerous substances from urban waste, heavy metals from industrial release, or diverse biological waste from farms contaminate land. In general, children are more susceptible to exposure to contaminants because they come in close contact with the soil when playing outside. Needless to say, every single organisms on earth will be affected if soils get polluted.
Studies also prove that up to 8% of carbon dioxide is released globally due to inappropriate farming activities from soil to the atmosphere. The good news, though, is that this action is reversible. Plants can pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequester it deep underground when cultivated in the right way.
This only confirms that our soils need to be taken care of. Since soil ecology deals with fundamental aspects of biodegradation and nutrient cycling, it is important to improve the way we manage our lands, especially when it comes to sustainable agriculture and good waste management . Similarly, planting trees to reduce soil erosion is a good idea, and decreasing the concrete surfaces such as driveways or patios, allows normal water flowing capacity, when the rainwater gets easily mixed with soil, which is crucial for replenishing our groundwater reservoirs.
The 2017 World Soil Day theme is – “Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground.” So, care for land, use the land sustainably and keep the existence of life on earth.
 Geology, Soil Science and Forest soils by S.M. Sirajul Haque, PhD, Professor of Institute of Forestry and Environmental sciences, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.
This is a guest post written by Jerin Sultana.
Jerin is a student from Bangladesh. Currently, she is enrolled to a study program from the Institute of Forestry & Environmental Sciences at Chittagong University. She has always been an enthusiast about the Environment and recently started writing blog posts about things she wishes to change on Earth. You can follow her on Twitter @JSDipty30.