Soil

Soil is the thin layer of earth that plants and trees grow in. It’s composed of broken down rocks, organic matter such as rotten plants, and living organisms like worms. Without soil, nothing would exist. No plants or trees would grow, and we would have nothing to eat.

The soil is like the human body. In order to be healthy, it needs food, water, shelter and rest. Plants grow by taking the nutrients and minerals they need from the soil. We get the nutrients and minerals we need from eating those plants. Soil is essential to life, but each year Africa loses thousands of millions of wheelbarrow loads of soil to erosion. We need to find ways look after it.

Soil works hard for us every year, growing our food, but are we giving it what it needs to survive? Without shelter, harsh sunlight bakes the soil, and torrential rains wash it away. Without food - new inputs of organic matter - soil loses its nutrients. We must feed it well for it to feed us well. Fortunately, there are many things people can do to help soil restore and keep its fertility.

This topic is all about soil, how it is formed, how it is lost, and how to look after it. Even the smallest child can play a part in looking after the crucial resource underneath our feet.


Soils
 

DOWNLOAD: EXCERPTS FROM AFRICA OUR HOME


How is soil made {pages 68-69}
Look after the creatures who look after you: Soil Life [pages 88-89]
Feeding the soil [pages 78-79]
Working with diversity: Spreading the risk [pages 86-87]
We can work together: Ways to Save Our Soils [pages90-91]
Healthy eating [pages 92-93)


DOWNLOAD: SOIL ACTION SHEETS

PACE Action Sheets
Conservation Agriculture PACE Action Sheets Green Manure/Cover Crops for Biomass Transfer
PACE Action Sheets Practical Composting PACE Action Sheets Living Fences
PACE Action Sheets Making Tea for Plants PACE Action Sheets Windbreaks
PACE Action Sheets Natural Pest and Disease Control PACE Action Sheets Saving Soil and Water on Sloping Land
PACE Action Sheets Mulching PACE Action Sheets Drip Irrigation
PACE Action Sheets Agroforestry PACE Action Sheets Buried Clay Pot Irrigation
PACE Action Sheets Planting Nitrogen Fixing Trees PACE Action Sheets Rainwater Harvesting for Crops
PACE Action Sheets Planting Fodder Banks for Livestock PACE Action Sheets Setting up a Community Seed Bank
PACE Action Sheets Growing Fruit and Nut Trees
 


DOWNLOAD: SOIL ACTIVITIES


ACTIVITIES FOR EDUCATORS


DOWNLOAD: SOIL DIRECTORY


For further details of helpful organisations listed in the Action Sheets see the PACE DIRECTORY.


The soil films are available from PACE, pace@siren.org.uk. The following are the sections of the DVD which are applicable to this topic:
Film
COMPOST AND MULCH - Food and Trees for Africa, South Africa
www.trees.co.za/
www.southafrica.info/ess_info/sa_glance/sustainable/wsfoodtrees.htm
www.trees.org.za/Permaculture/Food_&_Trees_for_Africa-4-15-0-0.html
Film GREEN MANURE - WCS COMACO, Zambia
Film NATURAL PEST CONTROL - Food and Trees for Africa, South Africa
Film CONSERVATION FARMING - WCS COMACO, Zambia
www.new-agri.co.uk/03-4/focuson/focuson6.html
www.irinnews.org
www.ifpri.org/divs/eptd/dp/papers/eptdp108.pdf
Film AGROFORESTRY - WCS COMACO, Zambia
www.worldagroforestrycentre.org
www.ingentaconnect.com
Film PERMACULTURE - Toronto School, South Africa
http://users.lia.net/neweden/permacul.htm
www.southafrica.info/ess_info/sa_glance/sustainable/thuthukani.htm
Click on the links above to find out more about these projects.



Waste... becomes compost... helps grow healthy crops

mulching
Protecting the soil: A student applies mulch to the Toronto School food garden, South Africa. © Sarah Watson

Trasizo's cabbages
Mr. Trasizo Phiri’s cabbage crop benefits from green manure - the soil has been enriched by nitrogen-rich leaves and branches from trees grown on the farm. (Kafunkha Agroforestry Farmers Club, Chiundamila, Zambia) © Jenny Sharman
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Last Updated on 2/1/2013