Related topics: plants · climate change · nitrogen · atmosphere · carbon

Large mammals make soil more fertile in tropical forests

The White-lipped peccary (Tayassu pecari) is a boar-like hoofed mammal found throughout Central and South America. These animals roam the forest in bands of 50 to 100 individuals, eating a wide variety of foods. In Brazil's ...

Mutant roots reveal how we can grow crops in damaged soils

For years, conventional wisdom has held that roots don't grow as deep in hard soil because it's just too difficult for them to physically push through it. But our new research has unearthed another reason: their growth is ...

Hard to crack research reveals how crop roots penetrate hard soils

Scientists have discovered a signal that causes roots to stop growing in hard soils which can be 'switched off' to allow them to punch through compacted soil—a discovery that could help plants to grow in even the most damaged ...

Asteroids vs. microbes

Inside one of the containers of this 40-cm-across miniature laboratory in orbit, a battle is set to start between asteroid-like fragments and rock-hungry microbes, to probe their use for space mining in the future.

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Soil

Soil is a natural body consisting of layers (soil horizons) of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics. It is composed of particles of broken rock that have been altered by chemical and environmental processes that include weathering and erosion. Soil differs from its parent rock due to interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and the biosphere. It is a mixture of mineral and organic constituents that are in solid, gaseous and aqueous states. Soil particles pack loosely, forming a soil structure filled with pore spaces. These pores contain sol solution (liquid) and air (gas). Accordingly, soils are often treated as a three state system. Most soils have a density between 1 and 2 g/cm³. Soil is also known as earth: it is the substance from which our planet takes its name. Little of the soil composition of planet Earth is older than Tertiary and most no older than Pleistocene. In engineering, soil is referred to as regolith, or loose rock material.

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