Soil is home to billions of living microorganisms which recycle organic material to maintain soil fertility and support plant growth. One cup of soil may hold 7 billion bacteria – the equivalent of our world’s human population!
Soil is formed as rock is broken up by ice, frost, wind, and water. Plants take root among the rock fragments and bind them together. When plants die, they fertilize the soil. Soil takes many years to form, but it can be destroyed very quickly by bad farming methods, such as deforestation (clearing the land of trees).
It takes 2,000 years for natural processes to make 10 centimeters of fertile soil from bedrock. Unfortunately, around 24 billion tons of topsoil are lost every year due to agriculture and erosion, which is over 3 tons per person, according to the Nature Conservancy.