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What lies beneath?

Soil is a complex blend of organic matter, minerals, water, air, and micro-organisms. It’s vital that we care for our soil. It produces around 95 percent of the world’s food.

Here's a list of fascinating facts about what lies beneath our feet:

• Many of today's antibiotics have been derived from soil — e.g. penicillin.

• Soil is made up of clay, sand and loam. They are grouped according to the amounts of coarse sand and fine clay particles and organic matter they contain.

• What is clay? Clay is very small mineral particles of weathered rocks and clay soil can retain lots of moisture and nutrients.

• Clay soil can be improved by adding organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

• What is sand? Sand is coarse, loose particles of rocks and minerals. Sandy soil drains freely and doesn't hold nutrients well.

• Sandy soil can be improved by adding organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

• What is loam? Loam soil is a wonderful mixture of clay and sand particles plus organic matter.

• A teaspoon of healthy soil can contain up to a billion bacteria.

• In 1g of soil, there can be hundreds of metres of fungal hyphae (strands of fungal growth).

• A healthy population of soil microbes can help reduce pathogens that cause plant diseases.

• Atmospheric carbon dioxide can be stored (‘sequestered') in soil.

• Productive soil can contain up to 7 million earthworms per hectare.

• The giant North Auckland earthworm (Spenceriella gigantea) can be up to 1.5m metres long.

• Earthworms do have a head and a bottom

• Earthworms can eat up to a third of their body weight each day.

• There are around 6000 species of earthworms in the world.

• Earthworms breathe through their skin.

• Burrowing earthworms help aerate the soil, allowing more air (and oxygen) to plant roots.

• How do you encourage more earthworms and soil micro-organisms? They both love organic matter, so regular applications of Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food will promote more of these wonderful soil inhabitants.

• Soil rich in organic matter can store up to 30 percent of its weight in water.

• A study suggests daily gardening can reduce the risk of dementia.

• Soil contains microorganisms that may promote happiness in humans.

• It is thought that early exposure to micro-organisms, including soil micro-organisms, could help reduce disease incidence later in life.

• Soil is able to filter and trap environmental pollutants, helping to prevent them from leaching into the groundwater.

• Soil contains 25 percent of our planet's biodiversity.

• Soil is home to a quarter of the earth's organisms.

• Soil micro-organisms are very important — they break down organic matter into nutrients that plants can use.

• Organic matter in the soil can store water like a sponge. You can help increase your soil's organic matter levels by regularly applying Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

• What is soil pH? It's a measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. Most plants like growing in soil that's close to pH ‘neutral' or just slightly acidic (pH 6.5-7). You can measure your soil pH with a store-bought soil pH test kit.

• There are special soil bacteria that live on the roots of legumes, like peas and beans, that convert nitrogen in the air into nitrogen that plants can use.

• Plant roots need access to oxygen.

• It's vital that we care for our soil. Around 95 percent of the world's food is produced on soil.

— Courtesy of Yates

A study suggests daily gardening can reduce the risk of dementia.
Productive soil can contain up to 7 million earthworms per hectare.