a sample of Manitoba's newdale soil

Newdale soil, Manitoba's official soil.

Soil, surely it isn’t dirt

Soil is not itself alive, but is made of life and gives life. Ancient in some locales and days old in others, no matter where it lays it’s the cradle of creation for all terrestrial life – not figuratively, but literally, in the grand biblical way.

“Just don’t call it ‘dirt.’ The thing about ‘dirt’, it doesn’t give respect to something that does so much for us. It’s demeaning to soil,” says Mario Tenuta, professor of soil science in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences.

“Dirt is something in your house you pick up with a vacuum cleaner. When you’re outside, the stuff the plants are growing in, the stuff that sustains life, is not dirt by any means. Give it some respect, the most respect. Even creation stories, such as in the Bible, start with ‘from earth to earth, dust to dust’ – well, it’s unfortunate it says dust because it should be from soil to soil, but they are giving you the incredible importance of soil right up front.”

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils, offering us a chance to celebrate this remarkable substance.

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