Please Explain: The Soil

Friday, January 22, 2010

On today’s edition of Please Explain, we’ll look at what’s in the earth beneath our feet. Chris Smith National Leader for Technical Soil Services, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Michael A. Wilson, Research Soil Scientist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Survey Research and Laboratory, describe what soil is made of, how and why it differs from place to place, and why rich dirt is crucial to healthy growth.

Find out more about the twelve soil orders here.


Chris Smith and Michael A. Wilson,

Comments [11]


Can anything be done to bring fertile soil back to Haiti?

Jan. 22 2010 01:58 PM
Linda Griggs from Lower East Side

My question is also about Terra Preta. Can I use charcoal ash from my bbq to make it? You know, since I don't have anything to slash and burn.

Jan. 22 2010 01:54 PM
Derek from 42nd St.

What is Terra Preta in the Amazon?

Jan. 22 2010 01:44 PM
Derek from 42nd St.

Please ask about TERRA PRETA the manmade soil plots recently found scattered through out the Amazon rain forrest. The amazon soil lack nutients and the water runs off rapidly. I heard that it cannot be replicated.

Jan. 22 2010 01:43 PM
Mike Tagg from Chappaqua, NY

My grandfather, whose farm was in McCool Junction, Nebraska, used to say that the fertility of the soil in that area has dropped dramatically over the years. Is this just an old timer's story, or has the intensive cultivation and use of center pivots actually reduced fertility?

Jan. 22 2010 01:42 PM
Pliny from nyc

please excuse the vulgarity but
is there a lot of "poop" in soil ?

Jan. 22 2010 01:41 PM
owen from NJ

My region is fairly hill near the raritan river. Therefore most local properties have indian clay 1 to 2 feet beneath the surface. Drainage is a minor issue (dry wells resolve it mostly) and the soil is not that stagnant. Does clay like this give a different mineral property to local soils? What is the name of this kind of soil?

Jan. 22 2010 01:40 PM
Lily from Phoenix

It is difficult to work the soil for backyard gardening in Phoenix. What green supplements would you recommend to create a more fertile and loose soil for a small area?

Jan. 22 2010 01:34 PM
A listener

What, if anything, can be done to reverse or correct the soil erosion in places like Haiti? Is it more imprtant to restore grass or trees or should they be done in conjunction?

Jan. 22 2010 01:34 PM
Ken Browd from Park Slope

My late uncle owned a florist shop near Sutton Place and would remind his nephews like me who occasionally worked there that "there is no dirt in a florist shop, there is soil!!" This was no laughing matter to him but then few things were.

Jan. 22 2010 01:30 PM

Is it true the nutritional content of soil has decreased so significantly over the years, that one needs to eat a greater number of fruits or vegetables to equal the nutritional content of the same food grown in the past?

Jan. 22 2010 12:45 PM

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