Their circle of life is critical to how nutrients are available for
growing plants. This increases carbon sequestration, which
helps combat climate change. And, higher-quality soil—with
more living organisms and oxygen—allows more water
to be absorbed instead of washing away as sediment and
The Natural Resources Conservation
Service defines soil health as “the
continued capacity of soil to
function as a vital living ecosystem
that sustains plants, animals, and humans.” To sustain and
improve the health of their soil and reduce erosion, farmers
can implement various management practices—like cover
crops and no-till planting—that have benefits to the farmer.
Similar practices can help improve the soil in our backyards
as well. Make sure there’s always something growing (native
perennials and trees are best) and avoid compacting your soil.
LEARN MORE: For more information on improving your
own soil, visit cbf.org/lawn-care.
ROOTS capture carbon dioxide,
hold soil in place, and help
reduce compaction. Dying roots
add organic matter to soil.
BACTERIA are microscopic, single-cell organisms that
capture carbon dioxide, add organic matter to soil,
protect plant roots, and give soil its earthy smell. Some
can break down pesticides and pollutants in the soil.
PROTOZOANS are tiny single-celled animals that release nitrogen
to plants when feeding on bacteria
and fungi. They also capture carbon
dioxide and help control pests. They
eat bacteria, organic matter, fungi,
and other protozoans.