The soil seems to be inexhaustible. It is just there, beneath our feet. Under the fields, grass and trees. We live on and from the soil, but we pay it scant attention. A few wine lovers say that each soil has its own bouquet, but how many of us can actually taste it? When we sit down to dine, who thinks of the soil where most of our food grows?
It is important to do exactly that. Soils are the basis of our food production. They supply plants with nutrients and water. Those nutrients are an ingredient in every potato, every loaf of bread, every grain of rice and every plate of cornmeal we eat – and in every pork chop and roast chicken too. Without healthy soils, it is not possible to produce healthy food.
But soils do not just produce food: they do many other things too. They filter rainwater and turn it into clean drinking water. They regulate the climate, for after the oceans, the soil is the world’s largest carbon sink: it stores more carbon than all the world’s forests put together. And soils are teeming with life! A handful of earth contains more organisms than the planet’s entire human population. Two-thirds of all species live hidden below the surface.