Soil is a multi-layered, complex system holding nutrients for plants, providing a home for invertebrates and vertebrates, and is the basis of thousands of food chains. Without soil, we wouldn’t be able to grow the crops we need to eat or grow the feed for livestock. Our way of life depends on soil!
Like bacteria, fungi lives in the rootzone and helps make nutrients available to plants. For example, Mycorrhizae is a fungi that facilitates water and nutrient uptake by the roots and plants to provide sugars, amino acids and other nutrients.
The soil system plays a role in the regulation of several ecosystem processes, including air quality maintenance, climate regulation, water regulation, erosion control, water purification and waste treatment, promotion of plant growth and regulation of diseases.
Soils are essential for life, in the sense that they provide the medium for plant growth, habitat for many insects and other organisms, act as a filtration system for surface water, carbon store, and maintenance of atmospheric gases.
Half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture. These impacts include compaction, loss of soil structure, nutrient degradation, and soil salinity. These are very real and at times severe issues.
The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species. And degraded lands are also often less able to hold onto water, which can worsen flooding. Sustainable land use can help to reduce the impacts of agriculture and livestock, preventing soil degradation and erosion and the loss of valuable land to desertification.