Why Study Soils?

Whenever I tell people that I’m in “Soil and water science” class, people’s first reaction is to make a funny face or laugh for a few seconds. This may be because they have never heard of such a thing or they have no clue how much we interact with our soil everyday. There is so much to learn in more than one semester and  it’s even been hard to fit in what we’ve learned thus far. From 5 forming soil factors to texture by feel, there are many reason why to study soil and get a better meaning on the “stuff” we walk on.

The first reason why to study soil is because soil it is our primary source for food production. A subsistence diet requires about 400 lbs of grain per person per year. This amount of grain production requires about 0.11 acres. An affluent, high-meat diet requires at least 4 times more grain because the conversion of grain is highly inefficient. The earth has about .62 acres of farmland per person, and about .3 acres of grain land per person. You can then see that the math does not have enough land for all humans to enjoy an affluent diet. Plus, these statistics will only worsen as the global population rises tremendously.

Soil is an intergral part of our ecosystem. Just like air and water we need it to live. If we all have a better understanding to the true impact of the chemicals and waste we pollute into our ground, then I think our environment would be a lot healthier.

Another reason soil is very important to obtain knowledge about is in Archeology Soil can reveal a diverse amount of information about ancient climates, geology, and people. They can study old habitats, dwellings, and other cultural evidence by looking at soil. This all will give us a better understanding of our past AND future.

Soil is important to have knowledge about because it is the support beneath our feet. It provides a stable, or not stable (Leaning Tower of Pisa) , platform for us to construct buildings upon. Soil may or may not be suitable for such uses as road beds, septic tank drain fields, dwellings with basements, or recreation facilities. All this information that we obtain about soil, once again, gives us a more comfortable and safe environment to THRIVE in.

The last and one of the most important reasons why we should study soil is because soil profoundly affects human history. The fertile land of Mesopotamia gave way to a population boom and provides fertile soils to feed many. Today, from the past misuse of our soil we have lost a huge portion of the fertile lands we used to have. We continue to destroy important forests and ignore the future consequences. If we don’t realize what we are doing to our environment today there may not be such a thing as fertile land in the future. I suppose the only all humans are going to actually try and stop this destructive trend is if something catestrophic were to happen.

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2 Responses to Why Study Soils?

  1. lpg42010 says:

    Alex, interesting that you say that about others comments towards you taking this class. The same thing happens to me. But in all seriousness, people don’t realize the importance of soil. It provides us will necessities that allow us to live, we should at least have enough courtesy and respect to take care of what was given to us, instead of taking it for granted.

  2. I don’t get weird looks, I just get the comment from Queens students that they didn’t know a class like this was offered. Nice reference to the QU motto, by the way.

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