Soil Health

In agriculture and human nutrition, soil health plays a vital role, impacting the quality and quantity of the food we produce and eat. Below us, there is a busy community of organisms and processes that influence the nutritional quality of crops and the overall health of ecosystems 2. Soil health is more than just soil; it's about creating and sustaining an environment where life can flourish, both above ground and beneath the surface.

Soil health plays a crucial role in determining how nutritious our food is. When soil is healthy, it contains lots of important nutrients that plants need to grow well and produce healthy crops. These nutrients include things like potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and smaller nutrients like zinc, copper, and selenium 2. Essentially, soil functions as storage for essential nutrients supplying plants with the necessary elements for strong plant growth and producing nutritious crops for human consumption.

 Additionally, the health of the soil significantly affects the nutrients found in crops. Research shows that plants grown in healthy soils generally contain more important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, if soils degrade the quality of crops, they decrease 2. This can be risky for our health and the availability of food. 

 Soil health in America 

The health of American soil is a cause for concern due to factors such as industrial agriculture, urbanization, pollution, and climate change 1. Here are the primary concerns:

 Soil Degradation:

  • Soil Compaction: Soil compaction caused by factors like heavy machinery and intensive farming, can negatively impact soil health by reducing its ability to absorb water, oxygen, and support plant growth.
  • Soil Erosion: Soil erosion is an issue in many parts of the United States-when soil erodes, it loses its nutrients, disrupts natural habitats, and sends sediment into the water, which harms water quality and the wildlife that relies on healthy aquatic environments.
  • Pollution: Use of heavy fertilizers and pesticides, Industrial activities agriculture, and urban development release pollutants like heavy metals and chemicals that can harm soil health which impact plant growth and human health. 
  • Urbanization: As cities grow, the expansion of urban areas leads to the conversion of fertile agricultural land for building roads, houses, and other infrastructure. This process puts a strain on soil health by reducing the amount of land available for farming. 
  • Climate Change: is changing rain falls, temperature, extreme weather, and storms, which can harm the health of the soil. Warmer temperatures and different rainfall patterns might cause more droughts, floods, and soil erosion.

 Promoting soil health in America means using methods like reduced tillage, cover cropping, and crop rotation to keep soil fertile and prevent erosion. It also involves using fewer chemicals and managing grazing carefully to protect soil life. Educating farmers and landowners about these practices is essential for widespread adoption and long-term soil health 1.


  1. BioProtection Portal. Soil health: why it’s important and how to protect it. BioProtection Portal. Published April 5, 2024. Accessed April 5, 2024.
  1. Sawyer A. Living soil, healthy garden. Published 2018.

 Created by Fabiola St.Pierre


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