How soils support life on our precious planet

producers and processors for human needs

Did you know that soils contribute greatly to the twenty four recognised Ecosystem Services?

Increases in human populations and prosperity mean that traditional demands on soils, especially for food and raw materials, are intensifying. There are also new demands that arise from industrialisation and urbanisation. Many of these stem from the abuse of the environment. Soil buffering and transformation capacities are used to smooth out, or cover up, damage by humans.

Great demands are made on soils to process waste. Sewage sludge and slurry from intensive livestock production units are spread on and ploughed into soils. Soils incorporate these materials, rendering them harmless, even productive. Soil caps are used to restore contaminated and derelict areas left by industry and mining. Soils cover, adsorb, detoxify and  mitigate effects of contaminants; re-vegetation helps landscape sites.

Rainwater runoff from roofs and asphalt can be heavy and irregular. Management of unsealed soils is important for flood reduction. Increasing human production of CO2 may be countered by managing soils to increase their organic matter content, thus storing carbon.