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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dirt

1. Dirt is simply soil found in the wrong place.

2. Soil is alive. There are more organisms in a handful of organic soil than there are people on Earth.

3. Soil is complicated. There are about 20,000 types of soil identified across the United States.

4. The Maine state soil is called Chesuncook, a highly productive forest soil that supports hundreds of thousands of acres of timberland.

5. Soil can die. Take the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, for example: Poor agricultural management practices and severe drought led to the degradation of 100 million acres of once-fertile grasslands, and winds lifted away 75% of the topsoil across the Great Plains.

6. Soil needs 11,000 gallons of water to produce one bushel of wheat.

7. Ten percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are sequestered in soil. Crop rotation and low- or no-till practices can help boost that percentage.

8. Soil is in space. NASA sent samples to the International Space Station this fall so scientists could study how gravity affects soil’s ability to hold on to carbon and nutrients.

9. Fifteen tons of soil can pass through an earthworm annually.

10. Soil is at the bottom of the food chain, yet it is the cornerstone of life on our planet.

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