Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fun in the Sun and Soil

It's been a busy last month for Talus. However, I couldn't miss addressing International Year of Soils June theme! This month is a fun one, but one that we may not think about while playing outside this summer. Of course I'm talking about "Soils Support Recreation!" Hiking and mountain biking are the first things that come to my mind. Effects of recreation on soil were already talked about in a previous post (see Playing in the Mud). But there are a bunch more ways that soils support recreation that you may not have ever considered!

Photo courtesy of Sabine Dukes

Horse race tracks have very particular requirements for sand, clay, and organic matter. A particular mix of these soil particles is needed for traction and padding, Depending on where the track is located, more or less clay may be needed as precipitation can change the way the track feels. Track soils have to be addressed to redistribute the particles after races.


Baseball in fields are another area where a certain combination of sand, silt, and clay is needed. In these soils there is a crucial need to have a material with minimal gravel. Would you want to slide into second base with sharp rocks present in the soil?


The two soils mentioned fall more in the category of "engineered soils," so the last soil covered today will be what we consider a more "natural soil." When heading out on vacation this summer you may go to the ocean. Running to the water you likely encounter a toasty surface. Although we may think of the beach as just a sandy place, it is actually soil! Not all beaches are the same either, so our reacreational activities may be different from place to place. Sand castles are usually better with finer sandy particles. The more coarse sandy soils have particles that are too large to be held together by water.


How ever you spend your recreational time outdoors keep in mind soil is supporting your play time. So enjoy that next free day and thank the soil for supporting your fun times!