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Why Does The Ground Look So Dry?

Just because the ground looks dry, doesn’t mean it is! Soil covers much of the land on Earth… it is the loose top layer of our planet’s crust. It is made up of minerals (rock, sand, clay, silt), air, water, and organic (plant and animal) material in which plant life can grow.

 

Images - soil_layers_ground_chart.png

 

Soil is made up of distinct horizontal layers; these layers are called horizons. They range from rich, organic upper layers (humus and topsoil) to underlying rocky layers (subsoil, regolith and bedrock). Soil color is the first impression that one has when viewing soil and often indicates soil moisture status. So, one may look at the ground and assume it’s dry, but you have to look deeper than the earth’s surface and realize where the plant or tree is truly getting its nutrients by what layer its roots are growing in.  The roots of plants and trees actually grow in the 2nd layer or horizon, called topsoil, where the soil is actually a dark color… meaning it’s rich & moist.

Images - horizon_ground_chart.png

The ground and/or soil – all the loose covering on the earth’s surface may look dry and that is because it is affected by the environment in so many ways!  How the soil “life” cycle proceeds is influenced by at least classic soil forming factors that dynamically intertwined in the way soil is developed, they include:

Parent Material (The material from which soils form)
Regional Climate
Topography (Slope and orientation affect the moisture and temperature of soil and affect the rate of weathering of parent material)
Biotic Potential / Factors (Plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and humans that affect soil formation)
The Passage of Time

So, next time you walk through your community and have concerns that the ground and/or soil is dry, first look at the plant material and see if it is healthy or dead. If it is dead, you might have a problem.  However if it is healthy, than you can be rest assured that the roots are getting their proper nutrients from the rich, moist topsoil that is two layers deep into the earth’s surface.

Sources: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/geology/soil/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil