Pedology


Pedology is the study of soils:-

Soil is not only a support for vegetation, but it is also the zone beneath our feet (the pedosphere) of numerous interactions between climate (water, air, temperature), soil life (micro-organisms, plants, animals) and its residues, the mineral material of the original and added rock, and its position in the landscape. During its formation and genesis, the soil profile slowly deepens and develops characteristic layers, called ‘horizons’, while a steady state balance is approached.

Naturally (heh!) having a degree in Environmental Science, I had to study this subject. Which is just as well as I am a relatively keen gardener, and a wargamer. Yes, a wargamer. There is no point is putting flock on a model’s base that does not reflect the nature of the soil/ground the model is likely to be standing on. You don’t put a Tomb King’s model on a rich and lush grassland base, nor do you put a British LDV figure on a sandy base (well unless its for a beach party!).

Dave the gardner was round today, and he zipped of some nettles, brambles and thistles for me in the front garden that I can see out of the corner of my eye when siting here writing my blog roll posts. So I was motivated to go and dig over that border.

Here, in Deepest Darkest Hereford, the ‘soil’ is basically red clay. This is no good for growing plants in really. Clay may have lots of nutrients but, the clay is made of platelets, and they act pretty much like a stack of plates. Pile your plates up high, and nothing gets through. Difficult for roots (and spades) to penetrate. Therefore, it needs breaking up. You can see the layers of plates in this chunk I dug out:

Therefore to make proper soil you need to do something about it.
Add this (organic compost/ or organic manure):

Add this (sharp sand):

Dig over for a couple of years, and get this:

Nice good soil, that crumbles apart in your fingers. Dig it over and you find loads of worms, it’ll have lots of other micro-organisms and be well aerated which is what plants like.

What’s this got to do with Wargaming ?, what does this mean ?
Well I keep a range of flock for all occasions – there’s nothing like a good hard flocking !

I use plastic blisters from Foundry to store the flock mixes.

You can then represent a wide range of soils and ecological habitats that are suitable for the figures you are painting and basing. Get it right !

You should also remember you are part of the same planet, and seek to minimise your impact on it. Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle. (I know that’s a bit trite and have the OOTs t-shirt: Zombies – Reduce, Re-Use, Re-animate)

What’s this got to do with AGW ?

Soil is an important carbon sink Рhealthy soils retain far more carbon, than denuded soils. Sadly, globally, our soils are being degraded at an increasing rate. We are stripping out the organic (carbon) content of soil faster than it is being put in. This means farmers have to put in more artificial fertilisers. These artificial fertilisers are produced using fossil fuels which adds to AGW via increased CO2 emissions. And of course in economic terms, artificial fertilisers cost more £.

Some argue erroneously, that CO2 is a plant ‘food’. Give me a pizza and that’s food and I’m happy. Force feed me 20 pizzas a day and I’ll be fat, vomitting and not very happy at all. That’s also what the science also tells us about plants and CO2 – they simply aren’t evolved (and cannot evolve in time) to deal with constant high levels of CO2 that we are going to produce if we continue our ‘Business As Usual’ (BAU) model of activity.

See also:
The Nature & Properties of Soils (Tenth Edition), Brady N. C.
Sceptical Science – CO2 is Plant Food
Gardeners’ World, Hamilton G, esp p11 for a comparison of garden and field soils.

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