The earth is made up of lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. The upper part of the earth is the lithosphere. It includes the solid part as well as the crust of the mantle. This sphere also interacts with the biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere to produce the pedosphere. Rocks, minerals, and soil are components of the lithosphere. Living on this planet without soil is impossible, as it is the basis of all life. Amusingly, people in real life always get confused between soil and land. It happens because a lot of people don’t even know the definition of land and soil. If you aren’t aware of the difference between soil and land then keep reading this article to unravel the same.
Table of Contents
1. What do You Mean by Land?Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels
The land is a solid part of the earth’s surface and is a really important natural resource for human beings. Almost thirty percent of the total area of the earth’s surface is covered by land but not all of this land is habitable. The various characteristics of land and climate are responsible for the uneven distribution of population in different parts of the world. The land is available as steep slopes of the mountains, low-lying areas, rugged topography, desert areas, thick forest, etc. Even pains and river valleys are a part of the land. (See What are Types of Landscape?)
2. Is Earth a Soil?
Earth is sometimes used in place of soil but these two are different entities. Earth is the dynamic planet that you live in. It was formed 4.5 billion years ago. There are mainly four components of the earth- atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere. When there is an interaction of the lithosphere with the other three spheres, there is the production of the pedosphere. Soil is a part of the pedosphere. From here it is evident that the earth is not soil. Soil is just another component of the earth you live in. (See What are the Uses of Soil?)
3. What is Soil made of?
The thin layer of material covering the earth’s surface is called soil. Weathering of rocks leads to the formation of soil. The soil is a heterogenous mixture and is made up of five materials – soil organic matter, living organisms, minerals, water, and gas. Soil organic matter includes animals, plants, and microbial residues in various stages of decomposition. Organic matter is critical for soil. One of the best indicators of soil quality is the percentage of soil organic matter in the soil.
Based on the size, the soil minerals are divided into three classes- sand, silt, and clay. Soil texture is basically the percentage of particles in these size classes. The particles smaller than 0.002 millimeters in size are the clay, silts are particles between 0.05 and 0.002 millimeters, and sands are particles between 2 and 0.05 millimeters. (See Is Soil Homogeneous or Heterogeneous?)
4. Why is Soil not Dirt?Photo by Muffin Creatives on Pexels
Soil is made up of silt, sand, clay, and organic matter. It is teaming with fungi, algae, bacteria, and other tiny creatures. These are the foundation of a symbiotic relationship. Soil is alive and has the capacity to function as a diverse living ecosystem that sustains animals, humans, and plants.
Different soils have different properties. On the other hand, dirt may be rocky and is also made up of sand, clay, and silt. It however doesn’t have the living organisms, nutrients, or minerals found in the soil. It doesn’t have topsoil or humus, fungi, or worms. It’s not an organized ecosystem. It doesn’t even have a structure and texture. Inline a handful of soil, it’s not compact when wet. Dirt does not support life and is hence dead. This is also the reason why soil is not dirt. After learning about this let’s discuss the definition of land and soil. (See What are Factors affecting Soil Weathering?)
5. What is the Definition of Land and Soil?
Land and soil are entities that have similar functioning and existence in nature. But there are many differences between soil and land and before learning these differences, one should know the definition of land and soil. So, here is the definition:
- Soil: It is the unconsolidated organic or mineral material found on the immediate surface of the earth. It serves as a natural medium for the growth of plants on land. It has been subjected to and shows the effects of environmental and genetic factors. It is a natural body that is made up of liquid, gases, and solids (minerals and organic matter). This body is characterized by one or both of the layers or horizons.
- Land: It is the solid part of the earth’s surface. It is also among the most important natural resources. About 30% percent of the earth’s total area is land. The various characteristics of land and climate are responsible for the uneven distribution of population in different parts of the world. The land is available as steep slopes of the mountains, low-lying areas, rugged topography, desert areas, thick forest, etc. Even plains and river valleys are a part of the land. After knowing this you are ready to learn about the difference between soil and land.
6. What is Difference between Soil and Land?
After going through the definition of land and soil, let’s discuss the difference between soil and land. These two entities are really among the most important resources on our planet. Let’s understand their differences through the following:
- Soil is a narrow term whereas land is a broader term.
- The outer and lithospheric part of the earth is land whereas soil is a part of the land and is the organic material that lies on the land. This is the major difference between soil and land.
- You measure the length and width of the land, thus it is a 2-D resource. On the other hand, in the case of soil, its length, width, and depth are measured so it is a 3-D resource.
7. What is the Difference between Land Resources and Soil Resources?
Besides learning about the difference between soil and land, let’s read about the difference between land resources and soil resources. Soil resource is a complex mixture of materials like microorganisms, minerals, organic matter, and air. It forms the surface of the land and is also important for plant life and growth. On the other hand, the dry part of the earth without water cover is called a land resource. It provides an area where animals and plants cohabit. (See What are Different Types of Resources with Examples?)
8. What is the Difference between Soil and Earth?Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels
Now that you have learned about the difference between land resources and soil resources and the difference between soil and land let’s explain the difference between soil and earth.
In broader terms, soil and earth are two different things though they have interrelations. The loose surface material that covers most land is called soil. It consists of both organic and inorganic matter. It provides structural support to plants in agriculture by providing them with water and nutrients. Soils have varying physical and chemical properties. The formation of soil is a result of processes like weathering, microbial activities, leaching, etc. The soil is a part of the pedosphere which is created due to the interaction of the lithosphere with the atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere.
On the other hand, the earth is a planet that was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. It’s made up of components like the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. In simpler terms soil is like a sub-component of the earth and that is why both these terms are different. The idea of earth incorporates the idea of soil. Check out What are the 5 Features of the Earth?
9. What is the Difference between Land and Soil Evaluation?
Apart from knowing about the difference between soil and earth, let’s learn about the difference between soil and land evaluation. Land and soil evaluation are often used as interchangeable words. These two terms however have a basic difference. Soil evaluation is an applied classified system that assesses the capacity of soil for its optimal use. It basically evaluates how to get the maximum out of the soil with minimum degradation.
Land evaluation is mostly concerned with present land performance. It takes into account the social consequences for people of that area and the country concerned and the economics of the proposed enterprises. It also evaluates the benefits, consequences, or adversity for the environment. (See What is Definition of Human Environment Interaction?)
10. What is the Difference between Land and Soil Pollution?
Now that you are aware of the difference between soil and land, also note the difference between land and soil pollution which can be easily learned through this table:
|Land Pollution||Soil Pollution|
|The degeneration or destruction of the earth’s surface is referred to as land pollution. Human activities are directly or indirectly responsible for it.||The alteration that is caused in the natural soil environment is referred to as soil pollution. If the contamination reaches beyond the threshold concentration level then this alteration becomes a threat.|
|The main causes of land pollution are:
||The main causes of soil pollution are:
|Its harmful effect includes chemical change leading to problems like global warming, acid rain, etc. It affects biodiversity and results in the extinction of species. It also causes biomagnification which defies the accumulation of non-biodegradable substances in the food chain.||It leads to soil erosion, reduction in soil fertility, poisoning of the ecosystem, contamination of surface and underground drinking water, contamination in the public passage by solid waste, and emission of toxic gases.|