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Biodiversity in the soil

Saturday, December 5 was World Soil Day, celebrated since 2014. It was formally adopted by the 68th UN General Assembly in December 2013. The theme for World Soil Day 2020 was “Keep soil alive, protect soil diversity.”

What does it mean to keep soil alive and protect soil diversity? Why are these goals important? If you are like me, you probably pay more attention to what you can see than to microscopic organisms that are not visible to the naked eye. As I read articles on soil diversity, this one statement kept popping up: “There are more microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth.” That is a mindboggling claim. How is this possible, and why are these microbes (and larger soil organisms) important to soil health and the entire ecosystem?

All of the organisms that live in the soil make up the soil food web. Some organisms, including green plants, moss, lichens, algae, and some bacteria use the sun’s energy to fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere thro...

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