7 Common Misconceptions About Soil

Soil is a material that makes up the majority of the land area of our planet. It is a loose material made up of both organic and inorganic matter. Soil is what provides plants and flowers with their source of water and nutrients – as well as the structural support they need to grow. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions that exist about soil and fuel misinformation about it. That’s why in today’s blog, our soil assessment team is going to address and debunk seven common misconceptions about soil.


1.   Adding a layer of coarse material to improve drainage

This idea that putting a layer of coarse material – such as gravel – below the soil to improve drainage is not true. In fact, it actually has the opposite effect. The layer will instead impede drainage and result in a water build-up just above the layer because the water is finding it harder to escape. This can be especially tricky with potted plants as the water has nowhere to go as it’s in a pot. It is recommended that you ignore this suggestion to ensure proper drainage.


2.   High-carbon mulching materials starve plants of nitrogen

This myth is only the case if the mulch is mixed in with the soil, but not if it is laid on top. If your mulch is high in carbon, then the soil must provide the nitrogen to balance it out. By laying the mulch on top instead of mixing it into the soil, you’re slowing down the breakdown of the carbon and giving the soil more time to produce enough nitrogen to balance the carbon.


3.   Soil is sterile

This couldn’t be further from the truth as just a handful of soil has more life in it then there is on the planet. How could this be you may ask? Microorganisms. Microorganisms are – as the name suggests – microscopic organic life that live within the soil. These microbial beings are what give the soil its qualities.


4.   All soil is brown

Soil can actually hold every colour of the rainbow if you look in the right place. Whilst uniformly they’re of a brownish hue, they can be found to be red, yellow, blue and many other colours. Some of the more unusual colours such as blue, purple and green are usually found in wetlands or around minerals.


5.   All soil is the same texture

Some soil may be rougher than others or contain small rocks in them. Some soil may be as smooth as sand. The texture of the soil can influence the amount of water the soil can hold as well as its drainage capabilities and fertility. Heavier soil contains more clay and lighter textured soils contain more sand particles in them. The heavier the soil is the better it is at holding water and supplying nutrients.


6.   Soil does not have a large effect on the ecosystem

Without soil, we would not be able to grow the majority of the food that we eat. This alone debunks the myth that soil does not play a large part in our ecosystem. The soil itself is an ecosystem with all the microbial life that lives inside of it. At some point, soil played a part in the creation of a lot of our day to day activities. Soil also plays a part in our air quality and temperature regulation – as well as having a positive impact on the natural habitats of animal-life.


7.   Plants eat soil

Plants do not rely on soil for food, so-to-speak, as they use the process of photosynthesis to create their own food. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t need soil to grow. Plants still require calcium and iron-nitrogen – which is what the soil provides them – to flourish and grow.


Do you need a soil assessment done in Melbourne?

If you’re looking at having a soil assessment done – whether it’s to make sure a site is safe or because you’re just curious about the health of your soil – then Alpha Environmental is the perfect firm for you. Our environmental consultants are expertly trained and fully qualified to tackle any environmental services you require. Some of our other boutique services include phase one, two and three site assessments as well as groundwater-related tasks.

If you would like a soil assessment conducted – or are after one of our other services – then please give us a call on 1300 039 181 or fill out our online inquiry form on our website.