Soil refers to the thinlayer of material covering the earth’s surface and forms as a result ofweathering of rocks (Chesworth, 2008). It is made up of organic matter,minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms.
Plants, being the primary source offood for humans and animals, obtain their nutrients from the soil. Therefore,it is an integral part of our environment. It also follows that human beingsmust protect soil from damage and erosion in general. To do this, one must,first of all, understand it and how it forms. Understanding soil will even makehumans appreciate it even more and so manage it properly. The process of soilformation is explained by many factors. We will, however, focus on five mainfactors namely parental material, climate, topography, biological elements andtime.
The soil is rarely formed directly from the underlying rocks. It developsfrom materials formed elsewhere closer to the place they get deposited or fromafar. These are usually carried along by moving water, ice and wind and thencollected.
With time, these materials accumulate to form soil. The so createdsoil will always have the same chemical properties as the rocks from which itweathered. These are called parental materials and can include “glacialtill.
” Glacial till refers to material ground up and moved by a glacier (Danoff-Burg, 2018).Variations in climatedetermine how soil is formed. Intense sunlight and rainfall determine the rateof weathering and leaching. Strong winds carry parental materials and depositthem in far places.
Variation in temperature affects the availability ofmoisture, the rate of biological activities, and rates of chemical reactions,especially on the parental rocks.Living organisms affectsoil formation in different ways. Human beings, plants, animals, andmicro-organisms all influence soil formation.
Each plant affects soil formationdepending on the types of roots it has. Fibrous roots end at the near surfacewhere they eventually die, decompose, and add up to organic matter in the soil.Taproots penetrate to the more in-depth soil thereby creating pathways amongthe rocks thus breaking them with time. Living organisms mix leaves that fallfrom the native vegetation thereby constituting even more organic matter in thesoil.
The time for thesefactors to work together to affect the soil formation is also a factor in thesame process. Time determines the feature a soil will exhibit. Soil particlesfrom recently weathered materials will have rough materials.
Soil particles ofsoil sample formed materials weathered ages ago will have fine particles.Topography affects theamount of moisture and temperature in the soil. The soil in a steeply landfacing the sun will be warm. The steep area might also be eroded and thus bethinner. The bottom soils will be thicker and darker due to uniform depositionof fine soil particles.There is a lot of pressureon soil globally today due to the needs of growing crops for human consumption,economic reasons, fodder crops for animals, and also developing in forests.
Theavailable use of soil is more than what the available soil nutrients. As thepopulation increases, more lands are being occupied by buildings, thus reducingthe available amount of soil for agricultural use. Therefore, humans have touse the available pieces of land wisely, and any slight mismanagement of soiland unhealthy soil practices will lead to soil degradation. This degradationrenders soil’s lost usefulness irreversible and thus making only one logicalconclusion that, it is non-renewable.