Soil Quotes

  • “Man has only a thin layer of soil between himself and starvation.” ~ Bard of Cincinnati
  • “We all should fall upon our knees and sing out praise for manganese.” ~ Richmond Bartlett
  • “I saw all the people hustling early in the morning to go into the factories and the stores and the office buildings, to do their job, to get their check. But ultimately it’s not office buildings or jobs that give us our checks. It’s the soil. The soil is what gives us the real income that supports us all” ~ Ed Begley, Jr.
  • “History is largely a record of human struggle to wrest the land from nature, because man relies for sustenance on the products of the soil. So direct is the relationship between soil erosion, the productivity of the land, and the prosperity of people, that the history of mankind, to a considerable degree at least, may be interpreted in terms of the soil and what has happened to it as the result of human use.” ~ Hugh H. Bennett and W.C. Lowdermilk, circa 1930s
  • “… if this is to be a permanent nation we must save this most indispensable of all our God-given assets — the soil, from which comes our food and raiment. If we fail in this, remember that much sooner than we have expected this will be a nation of subsoil farmers.” ~ Hugh H. Bennett (1933)
  • “Soil erosion is as old as agriculture. It began when the first heavy rain struck the first furrow turned by a crude implement of tillage in the hands or prehistoric man. It has been going on ever since, wherever man’s culture of the earth has bared the soil to rain and wind.” ~ Hugh H. Bennett and W.C. Lowdermilk, circa 1930s
  • “The plain truth is that Americans, as a people, have never learned to love the land and to regard it as an enduring resource.” ~ Soil Conservation by Hugh H. Bennett
  • “The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” ~ The Unsettling of America (1977) by Wendell Berry
  • “… the soil of any one place makes its own peculiar and inevitable sense. It is impossible to contemplate the life of the soil for very long without seeing it as analogous to the life of the spirit.” ~ The Unsettling of America (1977) by Wendell Berry
  • “…soil is alive and is composed of living and nonliving components, having many interactions. It is a part of the larger unit, the terrestrial ecosystem, that soil must be studied and conserved….we must remember that the biota have been involved in [the soil system=s] creation, as well as adapting to life within it.” ~ (1996) D.C. Coleman and D. A. Crossley, Jr.
  • “We might say that the earth has the spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
  • “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
  • “The thin layer of soil covering the earth’s surface represents the difference between survival and extinction for most terrestrial life.” ~ Defining and Assessing Soil Quality by John W. Doran and Timothy B. Parkin
  • “… the Latin name for man, homo, derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil.” ~ Dr. Daniel Hillel
  • “Detachment has bred ignorance and out of ignorance comes the delusion that our civilisation has risen above nature and has set itself free of its constraints.” ~ Dr. Daniel Hillel (2004)
  • “I would rather be tied to the soil as a serf … than be king of all these dead and destroyed.” ~ Odyssey by Homer
  • “It is not a coincidence the best farm soils in North America are in the same approximate locale as our most replete and consumptive metropolises.” ~ Justin Isherwood
  • “One of the great treasures of the world is to be found in the vast prairie soil covering parts of seven Midwest states together with a moderate climate and ample rainfall. Subtract these Midwest soils from the American experience and replace them with the drought-prone soils, and the course of our destiny and wealth might have been otherwise.” ~ Justin Isherwood
  • “Plowed ground smells of earthworms and empires.” ~ Justin Isherwood
  • “Soil is the last necessary thing. With air and water, a person can live 30 days; add but a comely pile of dirt and life expectancy expands a thousand times.” ~ Justin Isherwood
  • “The decline and abandonment of the family farm is the direct result of stripping soil of any identity and ethical or strategic value.” ~ Justin Isherwood
  • “While the farmer holds the title to the land, actually it belongs to all the people because civilization itself rests upon the soil.” ~ Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) quoted in the Des Moines Register, July 8, 1979
  • “ . . . (although) not an organism that can multiply, soil on the Earth is a living system.” ~ The Soil Resource by Hans Jenny
  • “Each soil is an individual body of nature, possessing its own character, life history, and powers to support plants and animals.” ~ Meeting the Expectations of the Land by Hans Jenny
  • “Soil isn’t a granular medium suffused with chemicals, it is alive and must be alive to function.” ~ Gary Jones (2005)
  • “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” ~ USDA Yearbook of Agriculture (1938) by Charles E. Kellogg
  • “Civilization has its roots in the soil.” ~ Charles E. Kellogg
  • “Dirt’s a lot more fun when you add water!” ~ Dennis The Menace (2004) by Hank Ketcham
  • “Nature is perverse. Especially soils.” ~ D. Kirkham
  • “Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.” ~ A Sand County Almanac (1949) by Aldo Leopold
  • “Where the bottom layer of the sky rubs up against the top horizon of the soil, all terrestrial life is found.” ~ Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan
  • “…which no one knows very much about. We don’t even know the etymology of the word.” ~ Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan
  • “A soil is not a pile of dirt. It is a transformer, a body that organizes raw materials into tissue. These are the tissues that become the mother to all organic life.” ~ Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan
  • “How can I stand on the ground every day and not feel its power? How can I live my life stepping on this stuff and not wonder at it?” ~ Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan
  • “Our motive for protecting the soil is our certainty that it is fragile. It does not have the same unchanging character as a mountain or a river; it is a recent and ephemeral product. We owe it our lives and our energy, and the bodies we give it back are not payment enough.” ~ Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan
  • “Probably more harm has been done to the science by the almost universal attempts to look upon the soil merely as a producer of crops rather than as a natural body worth in and for itself of all the study that can be devoted to it, than most men realize.” ~ C. F. Marbut, 1920.
  • “The soil itself must be the object of observation and experiment and the facts obtained must be soil facts before they can be incorporated into soil science. The science of zoology was developed through the study of animals, that of botany through the study of plants, and soil science must be developed through the study of the soil.” ~ C. F. Marbut, 1920.
  • “…only rarely have we stood back and celebrated our soils as something beautiful and perhaps even mysterious. For what other natural body, worldwide in its distribution, has so many interesting secrets to reveal to the patient observer” ~ Les Molloy
  • “The fate of the soil system depends on society’s willingness to intervene in the market place, and to forego some of the short-term benefits that accrue from ‘mining’ the soil so that soil quality and fertility can be maintained over the longer term.” ~ Eugene Odum
  • “We are able to breathe, drink, and eat in comfort because millions of organisms and hundreds of processes are operating to maintain a liveable environment, but we tend to take nature’s services for granted because we don’t pay money for most of them.” ~ Eugene Odum
  • “The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” ~ Letter to all State Governors on a Uniform Soil Conservation Law (February 26, 1937) by Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • “Tilth is something every farmer can recognize but no scientist can measure.” ~ Walter Russell
  • “We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable supplies of air and soil; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I will say, the love we give our fragile craft.” Adlai Stevenson (1965)
  • “Ancient poetry and mythology suggest, at least, that husbandry was once a sacred art; but it is pursued with irreverent haste and heedlessness by us, our object being to have large farms and large crops merely. We have no festival, nor procession, nor ceremony, not excepting our cattle-shows and so-called Thanksgivings, by which the farmer expresses a sense of the sacredness of his calling, or is reminded of its sacred origin. It is the premium and the feast which tempt him. He sacrifices not to Ceres and the Terrestrial Jove, but to the infernal Plutus rather. By avarice and selfishness, and a grovelling habit, from which none of us is free, of regarding the soil as property, or the means of acquiring property chiefly, the landscape is deformed, husbandry is degraded with us, and the farmer leads the meanest of lives. He knows Nature but as a robber” ~ Walden (1854) by Henry David Thoreau
  • “. . . like any other reservoir this one too can be drained and left empty and useless; let but the winds and the rains strike at the fallowed fields; let but the naked soil be exposed to the elements – how soon and how tragic the loss.” ~ Our Soil and Water by J. A. Toogood
  • “This soil of ours, this precious heritage, what an unobtrusive existence it leads!…To the rich soil let us give the credit due. The soil is the reservoir of life.” ~ Our Soil and Water by J. A. Toogood
  • “People in cities may forget the soil for as long as a hundred years, but Mother Nature’s memory is long and she will not let them forget indefinitely.” Henry Wallace
  • “I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love; If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.” Walt Whitman
  • “For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.” ~ Xenophanes, (580 B.C.)
  • “To be a successful farmer one must first know the nature of the soil.” ~ Oeconomicus (400 B.C.) by Xenophon
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