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Ever wondered how no matter how much food and water is consumed globally each day the supply never seems to run out? How is it that plants are grown on the same pieces of land year after year and the soil remains steady to support the next year’s crop?
Soil is a renewable resource though it takes a really long time to form. It could take millions of years for soil to replenish. It is for this reason soil is considered by some as a non-renewable resource when it comes to meeting the human purposes and use of soil.
In this article we will tell you more about how soil is formed, explain why is it so hard to determine is it renewable or not, and is it a natural resource, so keep up reading.
How is Soil Formed?
Soil minerals form the basic structures of soil. Rocks are the parent materials from which soil is produced. Soil is produced through natural processes such as erosion and weathering. Different factors such as water, wind, temperature change, gravity, living organisms, chemical interaction, and differences in pressure help in breaking down the parent material.
Is Soil a Renewable Resource?
A renewable resource is a natural resource that replenishes to replace its depleted portions through usage and consumption. Renewable resources replenish through natural reproduction or other recurring processes in a finite time frame.
Whether soil is a renewable or non-renewable resource is a question that gets different answers. Depending on the perspective taken, soil can be viewed both as a renewable as well as a non-renewable.
Soil is a renewable resource though it takes really long time to form. It could take millions of years for soil to replenish. It is for this reason soil is considered by some as a non-renewable resource when it comes to meeting the human purposes and use of soil. The amounts and level of use of soil are much higher as compared to the rate at which soil renews.
It takes about 2,000 years to accumulate about 4 to 5 inches of fertile topsoil. On the other hand, the mishandling of land and erosion causes soil loss of around 20 billion tons each year.
Soil’s nutrients are constantly depleted through wind and water erosion. Most of this loss could be stopped by proper care and through conservation practices. Such practices include terracing and contour plowing. Using soil wisely preserves it for the future. Beyond protection against soil erosion, soil also needs to be protected from toxic chemicals and wastes.
Why Soil is a Renewable Resource?
Soil is a renewable resource mainly because its nutrients can be replaced. It is a renewable resource-based on its climate and organisms. A soil’s ability to recover is dependent on the climate. The soil in humid regions can be quickly replenished as compared to those in arid and semiarid regions.
Since plants grow and die, organisms in the soil decompose the plant roots and residues. The organic matter in the soil increases from the decomposition. Such processes are way slower in dry regions since plants can only access little amounts of water, slowing their growth.
Relief affects the renewability of soil. Soils on stable landscapes such as lowlands or uplands that are gently sloping to level recover at a higher rate as compared to those on slopes. As water runs down the slopes, it erodes the soil and deposits it at the bottom of the hill. The least developed soils occur on slopes. Even in natural undisturbed landscapes.
Parent material is the primary source of soil’s renewability. It is the element from which soil forms. The soil has more rapid development if it is made up of coarse parent materials. Soils such as sands tend to have faster development as compared to soils such as clay with finer parent materials. In the case that soil forms over bedrock, the process takes a significantly longer amount of time to form. When soil erosion is intense enough to expose the bedrock, such areas will take an extremely long time to develop more soil.
Soils are renewable when the rate at which they form exceeds the rate at which they degrade. In cases where the rate of soil degradation exceeds the rate of soil formation, soils do not replenish to their initial level until the next climatic shift. The window period within which soil degraded is not developed the soil is considered non-renewable.
Whereas other kinds of damages may be irreversible, various types and causes of soil degradation can be managed to maintain productivity. For instance, old soils or those in humid regions are likely to experience acidification. However, the addition of ground limestone products is an effective method used to curb it. These products raise the pH levels in the soil and make them suitable for crop production.
Soils need to be renewed from salinization. It is the process through which salts accumulate in the soil. The process is mainly associated with irrigation. It is also experienced in lands in dry regions that are adjacent to rivers. Good quality water is used to leach out the salts out of the soil profile and make bring it back to productivity. In the event that water is not available from an aquifer or a river, precipitation is used to replenish the salt.
Is Soil a Natural Resource?
All-natural resources are valuable. They are great assets that should be taken care of and managed well to ensure the future generations will still have access to them.
Soil is one of the most important natural resources globally. Alongside water and air, the soil is the basis of life on the planet earth. The soil has various crucial functions that are absolutely necessary for life. Beyond sourcing the food supply needed by humanity and animals throughout the world’s population, soil plays an essential role in the ecosystem.
Soil contributes significantly to the recycling processes of water, nutrients, and air. It also creates a balance and maintains a number of natural cycles.
The world’s population would not survive without soil. Soil ensures the basis of life for generations to come. As a natural resource, the soil is an important part of the landscape.
It contributes to determining how natural vegetation, crops, and human settlements are distributed. Soil plays a double role. It is a reserve of nutritional elements and water.
It also provides the much needed mechanical support to plants, crops, and vegetation. Soil affects water composition. Life sustenance on planet earth is dependent on soil both as a natural and as a renewable resource.