Soil Facts

Did you know …..?

10 tonnes of topsoil spread evenly over a hectare is only as thick as a coin — European Soils Portal

An average soil sample is 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter — USA EPA —

0.01% of the earth’s water held in soil — Audubon —

1 cup of soil may hold as many bacteria as there are people on earth, over 6 billion — NRCS —

Over 1000 species of invertebrates may be found in a single m2 of forest soil — Soil Food Web —

Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form 2 centimetres of topsoil. — European Soils Portal

5 tonnes of animal life can live in one hectare of soil. — European Soils Portal

Soil supports our planets biodiversity and they host a quarter of the total — FAO —

A typical, healthy soil might contain several species of vertebrate animals, several species of earthworms, 20-30 species of mites, 50-100 species of insects, tens of species of nematodes, hundreds of species of fungi and perhaps thousands of species of bacteria and actinomycetes. — FAO —

Soil contains the organism with the largest area. A single colony of the honey fungus, Armillaria ostoyae, covers about 9 km2. — FAO —

Mature trees can have as many as 5 million root tips — Soil Food Web —

“Farmers are less than 1% of the Australian population today.

In 1950, an Australian farmer fed 20 people

In1970, an Australian farmer fed 200 people

Today, an Australian farmer feeds 600 people”.

Lynne Strong, Bega ABARES Regional Outlook Conference 30/08/12.

“…the intensification of farming over the last century has increased the rate of soil erosion 60-fold” — George Monbitt —

Since 1945 » 11% of earth’s vegetated surface (» area of China + India) has been degraded so badly it will be very expensive or impossible to fix Rattan Lal

Globally salinisation removes about 3 hectares of land from production every minute. Rattan Lal

40% of Africa’s soils are currently degraded — FAO —

33% of global soil is moderately to highly degraded — FAO —

In next 30 years humans will need as much food and fibre as they used in last 10 000 yrs. — Rattan Lal

Increasing soil organic matter content, using nutrients wisely, keeping soil surface vegetated, promoting crop rotations and reducing erosion can lead to an average crop yield increase of 58% — FAO —

Global population will exceed 9 billion by 2050 — FAO —

Agricultural production will need to increase globally by 60% to meet 2050 demand — FAO —

Agricultural production will need to increase 100% in developing countries to meet 2050 demand — FAO —

“Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions with its 23 million people is about 40% of the total of the 61 nations of Africa with a billion people” — Sydney Morning Herald —

Soil stores 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.  — European Soils Portal

Estimates of past losses of Carbon from terrestrial stocks:

  • 66-90 billion tonnes Rattan Lal
  • ~200 billion tonnes — Charles Rice

Biomass Burning is responsible for 40% of annual emissions of C02. — NASA —