Students weed rows of onions growing in fertile black soil in Rome, New York. Cultivating plants in moist, nutrient-rich humus reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

Photograph by B. Anthony Stewart

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    On December 5, 2002, the world first celebrated World Soil Day, recognizing the importance of soil to the natural environment and human development.
    Soil is vital to the agricultural industry. It regulates nutrients, water, and temperature needed for successful crop growth. Soil is also critical to securing healthy groundwater supplies and vital to sequestering carbon during periods of climate change.
    2015 was the International Year of Soils, which aimed to raise awareness about the importance of healthy soil. Activities aimed to halt poor agricultural practices that threaten healthy soils, such as irrigation methods that allow valuable topsoil to be lost through erosion.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    agricultural practice Noun

    method used to harvest crops or care for livestock.

    celebrate Verb

    to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

    chalk Noun

    a soft mineral. Also called limestone and calcium carbonate.

    clay Noun

    type of sedimentary rock that is able to be shaped when wet.

    climate change Noun

    gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate change
    critical Adjective

    very important.

    crop Noun

    agricultural produce.

    Encyclopedic Entry: crop
    development Noun

    construction or preparation of land for housing, industry, or agriculture.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    erosion Noun

    act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: erosion
    garden Noun

    area of ground where food, flowers, and other plants are cultivated.

    groundwater Noun

    water found in an aquifer.

    Encyclopedic Entry: groundwater
    industry Noun

    activity that produces goods and services.

    irrigation Noun

    watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.

    Encyclopedic Entry: irrigation
    nutrient Noun

    substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nutrient
    regulate Verb

    to determine and administer a set of rules for an activity.

    sand Noun

    small, loose grains of disintegrated rocks.

    sequester Verb

    to isolate or remove.

    soil Noun

    top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.

    temperature Noun

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: temperature
    threaten Verb

    to scare or be a source of danger.

    topsoil Noun

    the most valuable, upper layer of soil, where most nutrients are found.

    vital Adjective

    necessary or very important.