Along with the water we drink and the air we breathe, soil is one of our most important natural resources. We need to protect soil by keeping it healthy and using it wisely. Soil scientists help us do this – and much more.
Point of interest
As you watch the video, write down all of the different foods that have a connection to the soil.
Along with the water we drink and the air we breathe, soil is one of our most important natural resources. We need to protect soil by keeping it healthy and using it wisely. Soil scientists help us do this.
Many soil scientists work with farmers, foresters, wine producers and other land users. The healthier the soil, the healthier the products that come from it. We all need healthy food to eat, but our soil does more than just feed us. It is a big part of our economy. About three-quarters of New Zealand’s export earnings come from things we produce from the soil.
Soil scientists like Dr Ross Monaghan and Dr Selai Letica from AgResearch help farmers use soil wisely. They give advice on what nutrients the soil needs, when to use them and how to protect the waterways around their farm.
Soil scientists like Professor Louis Schipper work to keep our water clean. They know soil acts as a filter to trap and recycle pollutants and prevent them from moving into lakes or rivers.
Scientists offer advice to cities and towns like Taupō and Rotorua, which use the soil to clean and filter wastewater before it enters the lakes.
Sometimes soils are damaged due to spills or things that happened in the past. Soil scientists look after these areas and help to clean them up. Dr Megan Balks researches the impacts of human activities on soil – she travels regularly to the Antarctic to assess the impacts of old oil spills there.
Soil scientists help to protect plants and animals. One-quarter of all living things live in the soil for some part of their lives. Dr Nicole Schon spends a lot of time studying earthworms in the soil!
Finally, soil scientists are helping us learn more about climate change. There is more carbon in soil than in the atmosphere and all of the world’s forests. Scientists are looking for ways to store more carbon in the soil and to keep it there.
Professor Louis Schipper, University of Waikato
Pollen Plus, Tauranga
Vincent Chen and Feng Lin, Zealong Tea
Dr Satish Kumar and Dr Richard Volz, Plant & Food Research
Meyer Cheese, Waikato
Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
Dr Ross Monaghan, AgResearch, Invermay
Dr Selai Letica, AgResearch, Invermay
Professor David Hamilton, University of Waikato
Belinda Glass, AgResearch, Invermay
Dr Megan Balks, University of Waikato
Dr Nicole Schon, AgResearch