Submitted By: Mary Ensch
Until recently, a soil’s health was measured mainly in terms of its physical and chemical properties: its texture, structure, pH, mineral content, and so on. Today, attention has shifted to include something else as well: the ecology of the soil. Soil is a habitat for countless organisms, from microscopic fungi and bacteria to larger macrofauna, such as earthworms, centipedes, slugs, snails, etc. And we now know that these organisms—and the organic matter that sustains them—are key to the long-term fertility and viability of the soil. A healthy soil is also one that is not eroded, exhausted, or polluted. Poor agricultural and horticultural practices such as over-tillage have led to widespread soil degradation. Luckily, more and more people are embracing sustainability in every facet of their daily lives, from the clothes and household products they buy to the food they eat and the way they grow their gardens.