Soil serves many important functions in an ecosystem. In your landscape, soil is the medium in which your plants grow. The USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service notes that quality soils perform five functions at the same time:
Soils act like sponges, soaking up rainwater and limiting runoff. Soils also impact ground-water recharge and flood-control potentials in urban areas.
Soils act like faucets, storing and releasing water and air for plants and animals to use.
Soils act like supermarkets, providing valuable nutrients and air and water to plants and animals. Soils also store carbon and prevent its loss into the atmosphere.
Soils act like strainers or filters, filtering and purifying water and air that flow through them.
Soils buffer, degrade, immobilize, detoxify and trap pollutants, such as oil, pesticides, herbicides and heavy metals, and keep them from entering ground-water supplies.