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Articles on Soil

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Weathering of rocks like these basalt formations in Idaho triggers chemical processes that remove carbon dioxide from the air. Matthew Dillon/Flickr

An effective climate change solution may lie in rocks beneath our feet

To avoid global warming on a catastrophic scale, nations need to reduce emissions and find ways to pull carbon from the air. One promising solution: spreading rock dust on farm fields.
Entomologist Brian Lovett examines flea beetle-infested potatoes in Morgantown, West Virginia. Matt Kasson

How to manage plant pests and diseases in your victory garden

The COVID-19 pandemic has boosted interest in home gardening. Three scientists who garden explain some basic methods for controlling common insects and microbes that can spoil your crop.
Compost awaiting distribution at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District’s Rancho Las Virgenes compost facility, Calabasas, Calif. Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

City compost programs turn garbage into ‘black gold’ that boosts food security and social justice

Turning food scraps and yard trimmings into compost improves soil, making it easier for people to grow their own food. City composting programs spread those benefits more widely.
Corn stover (stalks, leaves and cobs) left behind after harvesting becomes a mulch and cover crop for soybeans on a Tennessee farm. Lance Cheung, USDA

It’s time to rethink the disrupted US food system from the ground up

There's growing interest in making the US food system more resilient and flexible, but soil – the origin of nearly everything we eat – is often left out of the picture.
Planting cover crops, like this red clover in Sussex County, Delaware, can help return carbon to farm fields. Michele Dorsey Walfred/Flickr

Soil carbon is a valuable resource, but all soil carbon is not created equal

Storing more carbon in soil helps slow climate change and makes croplands more productive. But there are two kinds of soil carbon that are both important, but function very differently.
Soil health maps can help smallholder farmers make better decisions on improving their yields. Rod Waddington/Flickr

Ethiopia is making maps to help improve soil health

Ethiopian researchers put together maps which show where there are soil fertility issues and whether nutrients are missing.
No-till farming conserves soil by greatly reducing erosion. USDA NRCS South Dakota/Eric Barsness

Restoring soil can help address climate change

More than one-fifth of global warming emissions come from land use. Sustainable farming can make soil healthier and better able to soak up carbon, while saving energy and boosting food production.
The memories retained by soil contain countless records, including a history of human encounters with the land. Shutterstock

Soil is the key to our planet’s history (and future)

Understanding the different facets of soil reveals a complex and fascinating cultural and evolutionary history.

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