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International Year of Soils: May 2015

Soils support buildings and infrastructure

By Diego Flammini,

As deemed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015 is the International Year of Soils.

All through the year, the UN along with organizations including the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) are making people aware of how important a role soil plays in everyday life and in many aspects of society.

To showcase exactly how much soil does for society, the SSSA produces a monthly educational video with a different theme and describes soil’s part in helping communities function and thrive.

May’s theme is “soils support buildings and infrastructure”.

Just as he’s been in the previous four months, SSSA’s Jim Toomey appears in the video that describes how soil supports the buildings people work, play and live in.

“Your home is connected to the soil in more ways than you know,” Toomey said in the video. “Your school, the building where you work, the stores you shop in, all of them are built on soil and often with it.”

Toomey described that bricks and stucco are made from a mixture of sand and clay while even buildings made of wood have a connection to soil.

“The lumber came in trees grown in soil and the cement foundation came from elements of soil,” he said. “All buildings are sitting on soil. Building foundations need to be on stable and strong soils.”

Buildings like this are built on top of soil

If the soil under a building isn’t strong enough to support the structure, the foundation could crack.

For people who live in the countryside, they know the important role soil plays in cleaning water when it works together with their septic systems.

The septic tanks release water into the soil and the soil begins to filter and clean the water naturally.

Be sure go to back and check out the other roles soil plays in daily life:

January – Soils Sustain Life
February – Soils Support Urban Life
March – Soils Support Agriculture
April – Soils Clean and Capture Water

Don’t forget to check back in during June when the theme is “soils support recreation”.

Join the conversation and tell us some ways soil plays an important role in your everyday life.

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