Our soils are our livelihood. Nevertheless, we often treat them like dirt – for example through intensive agriculture or the increasing sealing of surfaces. Basically, everyone can do something about it.
To help the ground in front of your own front door, it helps, for example, not to tidy the garden or front yard too thoroughly. Bacteria, algae and fungi decompose dead organic material and turn leaves or plant residues into valuable humus. Having your own compost heap can also be worthwhile. Humus can also be obtained from this. This in turn can replace synthetic fertilizers, which are often produced with enormous energy expenditure. Humus is an excellent water reservoir and contains plenty of nutrients, such as phosphate and nitrogen. These are continuously released into the soil and used by organisms.
So that it does not lose its fertility, the soil must be able to breathe. An asphalt floor heats up enormously in the sun, but at the same time hardly lets any heat into the earth. This increases the air temperature, with negative consequences for the climate. A planted soil, on the other hand, provides for cooling through the evaporation of the soil water and does not heat up as much in the first place as a sealed one. According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), every natural soil surface in conjunction with vegetation ensures a better urban climate.
You can’t just do something in your own garden
Each individual’s options for action go beyond the garden. If you buy organic food, for example, you help the soil, “because in organic agriculture, pesticides and mineral fertilizers are largely avoided,” explains the UBA. Careful, economical use of food also protects the floor. In Germany, an average of 82 kilograms of food is thrown away per capita. This means that large areas become unnecessary for cultivation, combined with intensive treatment, for example with fertilizers and plant treatment products.
Healthy soils not only guarantee us food, but also offer diverse habitats for animals and microorganisms, and store water and greenhouse gases. They are therefore an important part of the natural cycle and protect the atmosphere and climate.