Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is soil?

Soil or pedosphere is the thin and fragile skin of the Earth. It is a dynamic natural body that results from the transformation of rocks and sediments by various physical, chemical and biological processes under the influence of climate, topography, organisms and time. Human activities have altered the environment and soil processes in many parts of the Earth that is why man is considered the sixth factor of soil formation.

Soil is the foundation of human civilization. In ancient times, productive soils (i.e. good quality soils) have supported thriving civilizations but soil degradation due to misuse caused the downfall of several of them such as the Mesopotamian and Lydian kingdoms in the Mediterranean region and the Mayan civilization in Central America (Lal, 2006). In recent decades, hunger in certain parts of the world like Africa has been largely caused by unproductive soils. In the Philippines, most of the poorest rural communities are located in degraded lands.


Lal, R. 2006. Soil science in the era of hydrogen economy and 10 billion people. The Future of Soil Science. IUSS. pp: 76-78.

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