What Lies Beneath Your Feet

La Paz Group

Farmers harvest sesame in Syria. PHOTO: JIM RICHARDSON Farmers harvest sesame in Syria. PHOTO: JIM RICHARDSON

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. It aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. According to scientists, soil is being eroded faster than that the Earth can replace it. So the next time the words ‘dirt cheap’ come up, think again and take not the soil below your feet for granted.

Dirt is not only rare, but it’s complicated. To the uninitiated, dirt may look like grubby generic mush, but actually it has character, individuality, and a taxonomy all its own. Soil scientists recognize twelve major orders of dirt, each divided into suborders, groups, subgroups, families, and series, according to its various allotments of minerals and organic matter. Each dirt has a pedigree. Furthermore, dirt is proactive. It’s not an inert blanket; it’s a dynamic entity.

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