floors

As important as water and air

Soil erosion in Andalusia Joachim Eberle / University of Stuttgart
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{2l} What is a soil? Water - clear, air - logical, but soil? Many people can hardly imagine anything under the term. For some, soil is dirt or earth, others think of construction land or production areas. In fact, every day in Germany the area of ​​170 football fields disappears under streets and buildings. Calculated on the year that corresponds to the size of Lake Constance. We treat our floors like the "last filth" and overlook the fact that they are natural bodies that perform vital functions for us. Soils deliver and store important plant nutrients. And even though there is always talk of overproduction in agriculture, foodstuffs do not grow in the supermarket, but on fertile soils.

{b} Environmental Pollution and Flood Protection {/ b}
{1l} Soils also bind and filter harmful substances, preventing them from entering adjacent ecosystems. In a handful of soils live more organisms than there are humans on earth - a microcosm of which we know very little at first. Some of these organisms even have the ability to convert pollutants into harmless compounds. They protect our groundwater and drinking water from our toxic legacy. No technical product from human hands has such biological filter properties. In addition, soils have a balancing function in the water cycle. They can store a lot of water and thus contribute significantly to dampen flood peaks. A paved parking lot can not take over this task.

Natural soils arise when rocks weather by the influence of the climate. Because climate and rocks vary widely, there are very different soils with very different properties. A soil takes a long time to develop fully: in Central Europe, this process takes between 5, 000 and 6, 000 years. In some soils, the researchers can read as in a history book: changes in the climate or earlier agricultural uses are stored in them.

{b} Growing waste of soil {/ b}
{3l} More than a hundred years ago scientists have pointed out that the destruction of soils endangers the existence of human cultures: "A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself, " Frédéric Albert Fallou warned as early as the mid-19th century. With every square meter of asphalt a small piece of the ground cover of our earth is deprived of its functions. Soils are often referred to as the powerful, yet sensitive "skin of the earth", a very apt comparison. However, damaged floors heal much slower - or not at all. The wasteful handling of soils afforded by rich countries comes at the expense of future generations. With every square meter of built-up area, we increase the ecological problems for our children and grandchildren and limit their scope for planning. Because soils can not be multiplied, they are a finite resource.

Politicians have now created sufficient legislation to protect the soil. What is missing is a soil awareness among the general public. The reasons are obvious: fewer and fewer people work in agriculture, more and more at desks and computers. And the emotional and professional attachment to the ground will continue to decline. Scientists, educators and politicians are therefore called upon to raise awareness of the vulnerability and threat to soils in the population. display

A memorandum on the subject entitled "Without Ground" is available free of charge at the office of the Scientific Advisory Board for Soil (WBB), c / o Federal Environmental Agency, FG II 5.1, Kerstin Seidler, PO Box 33 00 22, 14191 Berlin, Fax: 030 / 8903-2103, E-mail:

What is a floor? Water clear, air logical, but soil? Many people can hardly imagine anything under the term. For some, soil is dirt or earth, while others tend to think of building land or production areas. In fact, every day in Germany the area of ​​170 soccer fields disappears under streets and buildings. Calculated on the year, this corresponds to the size of Lake Constance. We treat our earth like the "last filth" and overlook that they are natural bodies that perform vital functions for us. Beds supply and store important plant nutrients. And even though there is always talk of overproduction in agriculture, foodstuffs are not growing in the supermarket, but on fertile land.

Protection against environmental toxins and floods

Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) shes shepherd (alias on Flickr: schizoform) / CC BY 2.0

But earths also bind and filter harmful substances and prevent them from entering adjacent ecosystems. In a hand full of soil live more organisms than there are humans on the earth a microcosm of which we know very little at first. Some of these organisms even have the ability to convert pollutants into harmless compounds. They protect our groundwater and drinking water from our toxic legacies. No technical product from human hands has such biological filter properties. In addition, lands have a balancing function in the water cycle. They can store a lot of water and thus make a significant contribution to dampening flood peaks. A paved parking lot can not perform this task.

Natural earths arise when rocks weather through the influence of the climate. Because climate and rocks vary widely, there are very different floors with very different characteristics. A soil needs a lot of time until it is fully developed: In Central Europe, this process takes between 5, 000 and 6, 000 years. In some cases, the researchers can read as in a history book: Changes in the climate or earlier agricultural uses are stored in them.

Growing waste of earth

Did the common ancestor of all life emerge in a similar pond? © Brocken Inaglory / CC-by-sa 3.0

More than a century ago, scientists pointed out that the destruction of soils endangers the existence of human cultures: "A nation that destroys its soils is destroying itself, " Frédéric Albert Fallou warned as early as the mid-19th century. With every square meter of asphalt a small piece of the ground cover of our earth is deprived of its functions. Soils are often referred to as the powerful, yet sensitive "skin of the earth", a very apt comparison. However, damaged floors heal much slower - or not at all. The wasteful handling of soils afforded by rich countries comes at the expense of future generations. With every square meter of built-up area, we increase the ecological problems for our children and grandchildren and limit their scope for planning. Because soils can not be multiplied, they are a finite resource.

Politicians have now created sufficient legislation to protect the soil. What is missing is a soil awareness among the general public. The reasons are obvious: fewer and fewer people work in agriculture, more and more at desks and computers. And the emotional and professional attachment to the ground will continue to decline. Scientists, educators and politicians are therefore called upon to raise awareness of the vulnerability and threat to soils in the population.

A memorandum on the subject titled "Without bottom - bottomless" is available free of charge from the office of the Scientific Advisory Board for Soil (WBB), c / o Federal Environment Agency, FG II 5.1, Kerstin Seidler, PO Box 33 00 22, 14191 Berlin, Fax: 030 / 8903-2103, E-mail: .

(Dr. Joachim Eberle (Institute for Geography of the University of Stuttgart), May 26, 2003 - Peter Wittmann / German Society for Geography / Kirsten Achenbach - DFG Research Center Ocean Borders Bremen)