Packed with microorganisms and broken down organic matter, topsoil provides plant life with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Used extensively in building and landscaping projects for raised garden beds, football pitches and golf courses, is our dependence on topsoil threatening to harm the environment?
Along with natural oil and gas, topsoil is one of the world’s most exploited resources. Like these natural resources, topsoil too is in high demand – but unlike them, its finite nature and depletion aren’t widely known or fully understood.
Topsoil’s slow formation (it takes roughly 100 years for a millimetre of soil to develop) isn’t widely known either, and with landscaping and building companies looking for premium topsoil for their projects, it seems as though we’ve been taking it for granted – especially in the developed world.
A key element in our continued survival
When we take a look back through human history and observe the factors that served to bring about the collapse of previous civilisations, we find that topsoil depletion is one of the biggest. Because topsoil plays a critical role in our survival, our attention needs to focus on what we’re doing to reduce our soil waste and we have to look for ways in which we can prevent the needless loss of this precious element.
Good topsoil production practices try to make sure that topsoil is obtained in ways that don’t contribute to further erosion or nutrient depletion, but are they enough to sustain our current demand?
Supply and demand – the unregulated quality of commercial topsoil
Because natural topsoil is difficult to source, companies often use various other ingredients in the topsoil they sell for commercial purposes. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, they’re using less of a finite natural resource – the lack of regulation concerning the quality of topsoil allows many companies to offer up a poor soil mix.
While these poor mixes do often contain a certain percentage of topsoil in their composition, it’s possible that they also contain harmful elements that serve to damage the earth in other, no less severe ways than direct erosion or depletion.
When looking for topsoil for building or landscaping projects it’s important to ensure that the company you buy topsoil from is operating in a way that doesn’t negatively impact on the environment. A topsoil company that acts responsibly won’t provide chemically treated soils and will look for – and try to develop – sustainable soil sources.
Here is a few tips from A1 Services for all your topsoil needs.