What is dirt? Take a look at the whole twisted world that lives in the ground beneath our feet | Trending Viral hub


When you think of land, you’re probably imagining land. There is much more under our feet than the rock dust or “dirt” that stains our pants.

When I started studying the soil., I was surprised how much of it is actually alive. The soil is full of life, and not just the worms you see on rainy days.

Keeping this vibrant world healthy is crucial for food, forests and flowers to grow and so that the animals that live on earth prosper. Here’s a closer look at what’s down there and how it all works together.

The soil is a vibrant ecosystem. Gabriel Jiménez via Unsplash, CC BY-SA

The rocky part of the soil

If you pick up a handful of dry dirt, the basic dirt you feel on your hand is actually very small pieces of dirt. eroded rock. These small fragments were eroded from larger rocks over millions of years.

He balance of these particles It is important to determine how well the soil can retain the water and nutrients that plants need to thrive.

For example, Sandy ground It has larger grains of rock, so they will be loose and can be removed easily. It won’t hold much water. Soil with mostly clay. It is thinner and more compact, making it more difficult for plants to access its moisture. Between the two in size is silt, a mixture of rock dust and minerals It is often found in fertile floodplains.

Some of the most productive soils have a good balance of sand, clay and silt. that combinationalong with the remains of plants and animals that have died, it helps the soil retain water, allows plants to access that water, and minimizes erosion caused by wind or rain.

Clay soil, ideal for gardens, is a mixture of sand, clay and silt. NOAA

The parts of the ground that twist and chew

Among all those rock particles there is a the entire world of living beingseveryone busy doing their job.

To get an idea of ​​how many creatures there are, imagine this: The Omaha, Nebraska, zoo has more than 1,000 animal species. But if you were to pick up a small spoonful of soil in your backyard, it would probably contain at least 10,000 species and about a billion living microscopic cells.

Most of these species are remains largely a mystery. Scientists don’t know much about them or what they do in the ground. In fact, most soil species don’t even have a formal scientific name. But each plays some kind of role in the vast soil ecosystem, including generating nutrients that plants need to grow.

Lifting a rock reveals a symphylum, or garden centipede, on the left, and a poduromorph, or plump springtail, munching on the dirt. Marshal Hedin via Wikimedia, CC BY

Imagine a leaf falling from a tree in late autumn.

Inside that leaf are a large amount of nutrients that plants need, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. There is also a lot carbon in that leafIt contains energy that can be used by other organisms such as bacteria and fungi.

Of course, the leaf itself is too large for a plant to absorb through its roots. But that sheet can break into smaller and smaller pieces. This process of decomposition of plant and animal tissue is known as decomposition.

When the leaf first falls to the ground, arthropods– such as insects, mites and colombian– break the leaf into smaller pieces, shredding the tissue. Then a earthworm could appear and eat one of the smaller pieces and divide it further into your digestive tract.

PBS explores how earthworms help turn dead plants into fertile soil.

Now the broken leaf is small enough for microbes to enter. bacteria and Fungi secrete enzymes. in the soil that further break down the organic material into even smaller pieces. If there are enough active microbes, eventually this organic material will break down enough that it can dissolve in water and be absorbed by the plants that need it.

To help in this process, there are many small animals, such as nematodes and amoebas, which consume bacteria and fungi. There are also predatory nematodes that feed on other nematodes to ensure that they do not become too abundant, so that everything is kept in balance as much as possible.

It’s a pretty complicated food web of species that interact in a delicate balance.

A time-lapse video filmed about 10 centimeters underground shows a leaf decomposing for 21 days in July. In the end, the radish roots descend to the ground. Video by Josh Williams.

While some fungi and bacteria can damage plants, there are many species that are considered beneficial. In fact, they could be the key to discovering how to grow enough crops to feed everyone without degrading or overloading the soil.

Find out your soil type

Scientists have named more than 20,000 different types of unique soils. If you are curious about the soil and dirt in your areaThe University of California, Davis has a website where you can learn more about local soils and their chemical and physical attributes.

Taking care of the soil Promoting the benefits of your living creatures and minimizing their harm takes work, but it is essential to keeping the earth healthy and producing food for the future.

Brian Darby is an associate professor of biology at the University of North Dakota. This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons License. Read the Original article.


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