Spittal beach is an ever changing picture, constantly redrawn by wind and waves.
The forces of change working on the soil of a garden or field generally move a little (or a lot) more slowly. As vegetation stabilises sand dunes and organic matter is trapped among roots and stems, decomposition starts to turn sand into soil. If you dig down in the lower part of our garden (through good, rich topsoil) you eventually come to old beach sand. Further up the hill you come to sticky clay, a seemingly simple substance with a complicated geological origin. Wind and frost help the farmer or gardener break clay sods into workable soil. The gardener’s rake or the farmer’s harrow finishes the process of preparing a fine tilth for seed sowing.
Soil is formed slowly but it can be lost very quickly. After heavy rain, the river Tweed runs brown with soil washed off neighbouring fields and a dark stain extends far out to sea from the estuary. You can just see the different colour towards the horizon in this picture
Soil is a precious resource.
‘Soil holds 3 times as much carbon as the atmosphere, it reduces the risk of flooding by absorbing water, it is a wildlife habitat, and it delivers 95% of global food supplies. Unfortunately, it is a limited resource under pressure from climate change, population growth, urban development, waste, pollution, and the demand for more (and cheaper) food…..
UK soil contains about 10 billion tonnes of carbon, roughly equal to 80 years of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Intensive agriculture has caused arable soils to lose 40 to 60% of their organic carbon, and the impacts of climate change pose further risks. Extended periods of wet weather can cause widespread damage to soil structure. Very heavy rainfall and thunderstorms cause soil erosion which exacerbates flood risks.’
Chair’s forward to UK Environment Agency report ‘The state of the environment: Soil’ 2019.
Cee’s photo challenge this week is Sand and Dirt. I’ve translated Dirt into British English.