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International Year of Soils: December 2015

Soils, culture and people

By Diego Flammini,

How much do you know about soil and all of the roles it can play in different aspects of daily life?

For those who weren’t aware or wanted to expand their knowledge about soil, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations designated 2015 as the International Year of Soils.

Organizations including the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) have spent the year educating the public on soil’s many capabilities. From supporting agriculture and recreation to ensuring water is clean, soil is an important part of keeping societies functioning.

Each month, the SSSA produces a video to highlight specific themes about soil. December’s theme is “soils, culture & people.”

Parts of soil were used to make ancient societies come to life.

“Soil for color pigments used in paints, dyes and inks, sand and minerals to create glass, and clay ceramics,” said SSSA’s Jim Toomey in the video.

Soils were used thousands of years ago to make cosmetics and pottery, which were applied during rituals and celebrations.

“Ancient Greeks used red clay for lipsticks and chalk on their faces,” he said.

During the time of the ancient Romans, wealthy citizens traveled to spas to receive many of the same treatments available today.

Clay was even used as an early form of paper, preserving the time’s writings for many years.

“Tablets were engraved with a sharp object while the clay was still wet,” Toomey explained.

Be sure to go back throughout the year and explore the other themes of the International Year of Soils:

January – Soils Sustain Life
February – Soils Support Urban Life
March – Soils Support Agriculture
April – Soils Clean and Capture Water
May – Soils Support Buildings and Infrastructure
June – Soils Support Recreation
July – Soils are Living
August – Soils Support Health
September - Soils Protect the Natural Environment
October – Soils and the Produces We Use
November – Soils and Climate

Join the conversation and tell us what you’ve learned throughout the International Year of Soils. 

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