The secret history of dirt


Dirt isn’t just the stuff beneath our feet. It’s the stuff of life.

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Dirt is alive. It’s full of billions of creatures so small you can’t even see them under a microscope. For 10,000 years, dirt has helped humans convert the limitless energy of the sun into the plants and animals we eat to keep us alive. Dirt has been good to us. But it turns out, we haven’t been very good to the dirt. Roll up your sleeves. It’s time to get dirty.

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Try the dirt experiment featured in this episode for yourself. You can print it from this link:

Additional reading and sources:

Soil Foodweb Institute (Australia):

Civilizations rise and fall on the quality of their soil (Science Daily):

One amazing substance allowed life to thrive on land (BBC):

The Rhizosphere: An Ecological Perspective (Academic Press, 2007):,protists%2C%20nematodes%2C%20and%20rotifers.

The Big Bloom—How Flowering Plants Changed the World (National Geographic):,only%20the%20last%2090%20seconds.

Soil Science Society of America (SSSA):

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Farmers and Their Languages: The First Expansions (Science):

The Science Behind the Three sisters (Cornell University):

Amazonian Dark Earths: Geoarchaeology. (Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology):

Why It’s Time to Stop Punishing Our Soils with Fertilizers (Yale Environment 360):

Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues (Scientific American):

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