Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

2019 Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Soil and Agriculture

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1179-9_539


Soil is a key component to any successful agricultural operation, serving as a growth medium for plants and providing water and essential nutrients. It is also a highly precious commodity that can be quickly degraded but takes a very long time to form. Soil formation depends on five important factors: climate, living organisms, topography, parent materials, and time (Jenny 1941). Time is the controlling factor for all the other variables, as it allows for parent materials to weather and organisms to further modify those materials into soil. It often takes thousands of years for a soil to reach its maturity because of the slow processes of physical and chemical weathering of a given parent material. For example, soils that form along rivers and streams are sediments deposited as a result of multiple flood events over time. Each flood event may only deposit a centimeter or two of sediment at a time, therefore potentially requiring hundreds of flood events to have enough...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Women, Gender and Sexuality StudiesNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Women’s Studies ProgramNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA