World Soil Day: The Wonderful World of Dirt

Tips and tricks to promote healthy dirt in your home.

By: Carissa Nelson, Manager of Sustainability

When thinking of how we can all help pitch in to build a healthier and more sustainable world, soil often doesn’t come to mind. Building healthy living soils is a powerful way in which we can support the health of our local ecology.

Did you know that good dirt is alive? It is teaming with microbiology! Bacteria and fungi help plant life absorb nutrients, resist drought, and develop into their best plant selves. In fact, a quarter of all known species on earth live in the soil, and only 1% of soil microorganisms have been identified!

One of the major impacts on the amount of carbon in our atmosphere stems from outdated and unhealthy agricultural practices that rely upon pesticides, herbicides, and heavy chemical fertilizers. In addition to tilling practices and erosion, these chemicals cause compaction and kill the soil microbiome, unleashing the carbon that was locked away. Dead soil makes growing plants difficult and reliant upon those same chemicals that got us in this unhappy situation; which has created a very unsustainable feedback loop.

Earth’s soil has the capacity to safely hold 3 times the amount of carbon as the atmosphere. Soil carbon sequestration, also known as “carbon farming,” includes various ways of managing land, especially farmland, so that soils absorb and hold more carbon. Also known as regenerative agriculture, you can easily do this at home in your yard!

Some tricks to try at home:

  • Compost & nitrogen-fixing groundcovers
    • Apply organic compost every year; bare soil is the enemy of regenerative agriculture. Keep that soil covered either with a healthy layer of compost or plant a nice cover crop as ground cover. I personally love a mixture of micro clover, & crimson clover in my yard.
  • Grow your own worms
    • Worm composting is fun and easy; you can purchase a starter kit online or at your local garden store. Feed them a balanced diet of food scraps and watch as they produce “black gold” or worm castings that you can add to your garden to help build super healthy soil.
  • Get your soil tested