Soil Review

15 August 2022, Martin Doeswijk

The soil isn’t just underfoot. It’s often everywhere. I started keeping a digital diary last February, in which I spent a year highlighting the importance of healthy soils in everyday situations based on snapshots accompanied by short, explanatory stories. I’ve been posting these on LinkedIn and Instagram. I take the photos myself, such as on my bike rides.

My reason for starting this diary was that our soils are unhealthy, with all the consequences that this entails. As I wrote previously in my blogs, 70% of our soils are unhealthy. We’ve been taking far more from the earth than it can provide for decades now. But because it’s beneath our feet, we often overlook it.

The importance of healthy soils was highlighted again this week with the news that the planetary limit for (four specific) PFASs has been exceeded in rainwater, soil and surface water. These chemicals are extremely persistent and remain in the environment for a very long time. They spread across the globe and are therefore harmful to humans and animals for a protracted period. And this is just one of many examples.

Anyone taking a proper look can’t fail to notice: the soil is omnipresent. Consider in this regard place names and street names containing words like ‘veen’ (fen, moor) and ‘akker’ or ‘veld’ (field), the sand extraction in Ellertshaar in the Netherlands, as well as in construction work like the impressive construction pit along the River Spree in Berlin, or the fascinating site of geological interest Steilrand (near the Dutch village of Donderen) where I recently stood face to face with a two-metre-tall soil profile that takes you back 400,000 years in time!

My daily ‘Soil Review’ shows me that soil is omnipresent, and that we are dependent on it. I’d like to invite you to once again explore (with open eyes) what (healthy) soil means to us. So take advantage of this summery weather and jump on your bike. In my experience, it’s great not only for mental health but also for physical health. And if you happen to get a great photo of the soil, then I’d love it if you were to share it with me!


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