Beneath Our Feet #365DaysWild

#StayWild Tip: Celebrate mud, glorious mud.  Make a mud pie, build muddy canals, or dig a hole and see what you can find! 

I enjoy learning and, during my summer hiatus between Psychology degree modules, I’ve been catching up on some reading and some free online courses. 

FutureLearn is a great resource for short, snappy courses, provided for free by leading UK universities, including the Open University, my current alma mater.

I’ve recently commenced a fascinating short course, courtesy of Lancaster University, titled “Soils: introducing the world beneath our feet”. I was already aware of some aspects of  soil formation and the importance to ecology and ecosystems, but it’s proving to be even more interesting than I thought. The lessons are brought to life through multimedia, as well as practical experiments at home. 

The content has included useful and surprising information:

  • There can be an astonishing one billion bacteria in one gram of soil
  • Some common soil bacteria streptomyces produce antibiotics and give smilies earthy smell 
  • It takes 500 years for only a couple of centimetres of soil to form,  and thousands of years for fertile, quality soil to form, reminds me of how precious a commodity it is.

I especially enjoy the “experiments”. The following flow diagram is used in the field to determine the classification of a particular soil type.

Give it a try and see what kind of soil you have – I’m a sandy loam sort of guy! 

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