What came first, the soil or the plant?: A short primer on soil formation.

Ground to Sky

Soil is quite probably the resource that is most taken for granted by modern society. How many people who aren’t farmers or gardeners really think about soil and how important it is to the human race? Soil provides the nutrients for crops to grow, it’s the building block of forests, it provides a home for countless animals and micro organisms. It even has a part to play in regulating the climate. Soil is an invaluable resource that provides invaluable services and if we want to preserve it, we need to know where it comes from and how to make more of it.

When I was an undergraduate environmental scientist, I was taught the following equation as a way to visualise the many things that contribute to the formation of soil and determines what type of soil you get. I like the simplicity of this little function, so have a look…

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