Chapter 1

Soil: The Foundation of Agriculture

(book excerpts)

Healthy soil is the foundation of productive, sustainable agriculture. Soil is a dynamic natural body developed as a result of pedogenic processes through weathering of rocks, consisting of mineral and organic constituents, possessing definite chemical, physical, mineralogical and biological properties. Soil is a critical part of successful agriculture and serves many functions. It provides a rooting zone for plants, supplies a balance of plant nutrients, and retains, stores and releases moisture for plant use. It also enhances seed germination and root penetration, and supports a complex community of beneficial microorganisms which decompose organic wastes, recycle plant nutrients, and protect plants from pests. All these functions are essential for maintaining the tilth, fertility and productivity of agricultural soils. Another important aspect is that when soil is healthy, it filters the rainwater and regulates the discharge of excess rainwater, preventing flooding; it is capable of storing large amounts of organic carbon; it buffers against pollutants, thus protecting groundwater quality, and regulates the natural cycles of water, air, and organic and mineral matter.

Click on the following topics for more information on soil, the foundation of agriculture.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Soil Composition
  • Minerals
  • Soil Organic Matter
  • Soil Microorganisms
  • Water
  • Gases
  • Soil Health
  • Benefits of a Healthy Soil
  • Nutrient Cycling
  • Regulation of Soil, Air, and Water
  • Maintaining Soil Organic Matter
  • Biodiversity and Habitat
  • Maintaining Soil pH
  • Filtering and Buffering
  • Temperature Moderation
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Soil Health Indicators
  • Physical Indicators
  • Chemical Indicators
  • Biological Indicators
  • Descriptive Indicators
  • Sustainable Soil Management
  • Minmize Soil Erosion
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices
  • Enhance Soil Organic Matter
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices
  • Preserve and Enhance Soil Biodiversity
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices
  • Prevent and Minimize Soil Salinization
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices
  • Prevent and Minimize Soil Acidification
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices
  • Prevent and Minimize Soil Compaction
  • Sustainable Soil Management Practices