What is soil and what is it made up of?
Soil is made up of three main components – minerals that come from rocks below or nearby, organic matter which is the remains of plants and animals that use the soil, and the living organisms that reside in the soil.
Soil is a mixture of four main ingredients: weathered rock, organic matter, air, and water. The weathered rock can be in the form of sand, silt, clay, pebbles, or other size rocks. Organic matter can be anything from old leaves, dead animals and plants, or tiny living things.
- The many species that live in the soil range in size from tiny one celled bacteria, algae, fungi, and protozoa to more complex organisms like earthworms, insects, small vertebrates, and plants. The table below shows six of the many species that live in the soil in the eastern United States.
- Soil lets plants grow, allows gas exchanges to happen between the land and air, provides habitat for most of the organisms on Earth, holds and cleans water, recycles nutrients, and is used for constructing structures like buildings and roadbeds.
- The Ideal Soil Type: Loam. The type of soil that gardens and gardeners love is loamy soil. It contains a balance of all three soil materials—silt, sand and clay—plus humus. It has a higher pH and calcium levels because of its previous organic matter content.
Updated: 2nd October 2019