Digging Into Soil Reveals Much About Cities

Soil often doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, but it is integral to the ecology of cities.
January 22, 2019, 1pm PST | Camille Fink
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Soil Science

Oliver Milman reports on a frequently overlooked aspect of urban ecology: soil science. Soil scientists say that this thin layer of the planet can provide valuable information about the environmental health of a city, writes Milman:

Taking gallon-sized samples of soil from select spots helps researchers put together a soil map of an area. Layers of soil have differing amounts of sand, silt and clay: some have lots of organic matter, others hold a lot of water. Typically, in cities, the soil is contaminated.

Urban gardening and farming means food is grown in city soil, and soil also filters water and captures pollution, notes Milman. In addition, soil in cities supports trees and plants that in turn provide shade, stabilize wetlands in coastal areas, and help reduce carbon levels.

Milman notes that the NYC Urban Soils Institute hosts the Urban Soils Symposium and works to highlight the importance of soil in urban environments.

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Published on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 in The Guardian
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