Soil - we cannot live without it!

Yesterday was World Soil Day. It will not be something you think about every day, but the actions we take can have a real positive impact on the health of our soil. Maybe you have stopped using pesticides in your garden or on your farm land or you have started to compost the waste from your kitchen.

Our soils are degrading at a scary rate, we take the soil for granted and now one-third of the world's arable soils have degraded. It can take 1000 years for just 1 cm of topsoil to form.

Soil is a combination of living organisms, air, water, minerals and organic matter. We need it to sustain life. It sustains us, provides a home for billions of organisms, captures carbon and can help defend us against flooding and drought.

Did you know that there's 10 billion tonnes of carbon stored in the soil here in the UK?

When the soil is healthy is captures carbon dioxide and stores it as soil organic carbon, an essential resource in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change.

95% of the food that we eat comes from soil and without plenty of this being healthy it would be impossible for farmers to produce the food we eat.

Essentially, feeding the world starts, and ends, with healthy soil.

Healthy soils stores and absorbs water, with the help of soil organisms, organic matter and good soil management. This makes them a vital resource for protecting against flooding and droughts.

Did you know - a single hectare of soil has the potential to store and filter enough water for 1000 people for 1 year?

Biological activity in soil slows once the temperature drops below seven degrees.

Here are some handy tips to protect the soil in your garden this winter.

  1. Test your soil. What type of soil do you have: clay, silt, chalky, sandy? Knowing this helps you to choose the right plants for your garden and what TLC it will require in the winter months.

  2. Mulch. This is a covering of biodegradable material. A natural blanket to help protect the soil from erosion and suppress weeds and deter garden pests. Sawdust, woodchips, leaves and compost make excellent mulches along with straw.

  3. Leave winter weeds like dandelions, chickweeds as these help to protect soil from erosion and improve drainage.

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