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Soil Quotations

Soil-related quotes.

The Ancient Rule: “Whatever is affixed to the soil belongs to the soil.” — Anglo-Saxon Law

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil ... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” — Charles E. Kellogg, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1938

“Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.” — Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

“Be it deep or shallow, red or black, sand or clay, the soil is the link between the rock core of the earth and the living things on its surface. It is the foothold for the plants we grow. Therein lies the main reason for our interest in soils.” — Roy W. Simonson, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1957

“We are part of the earth and it is part of us ... What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.” — Chief Seattle, 1852

“... the Latin name for man, homo, derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil.” — Dr. Daniel Hillel

“To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower.” — William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

“Each soil has had its own history. Like a river, a mountain, a forest, or any natural thing, its present condition is due to the influences of many things and events of the past.” — Charles Kellogg, The Soils That Support Us, 1956

“Nature has endowed the Earth with glorious wonders and vast resources that man may use for his own ends. Regardless of our tastes or our way of living, there are none that present more variations to tax our imagination than the soil, and certainly none so important to our ancestors, to ourselves, and to our children”. — Charles Kellogg, The Soils That Support Us, 1956

“The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all.” — Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977

“We must come to understand our past, our history, in terms of the soil and water and forests and grasses that have made it what it is.” — William Vogt, Road to Survival, 1948

“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.

“I would rather be tied to the soil as a serf ... than be king of all these dead and destroyed.” — Homer, Odyssey

“Man and man’s earth are unexhausted and undiscovered. Wake and listen! Verily, the earth shall yet be a source of recovery. Remain faithful to the earth, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth.” — Friedrich Nietzche

“... As a farmer, man himself became closely attached to the landscape, firmly rooted to the soil that supported him. At times the soil seemed bountiful and kindly and again stubborn and unfriendly, but it was always a challenge to man’s cunning.” — Charles E. Kellogg

“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

“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

“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?” — William Bryant Logan from Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

“Landscapes evolve steadily by jerks.” — Ray Daniels, 1987

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” — Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

“We shall never achieve harmony with land any more than we shall achieve justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive.” — Aldo Leopold

“... 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.” — H.H. Bennett, 1933

“To be a successful farmer one must first know the nature of the soil.” — Xenophon, Oeconomicus, 400 B.C.

“If the soil is destroyed, then our liberty of action and choice are gone ...” — W.C. Lowdermilk, 1953

“Whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” — Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’ s Travels, 1726

“... I cannot conceive of the time when knowledge of soils will be complete. Our expectation is that our successors will build on what has been done, as we are building on the work of our predecessors.” — R.S. Smith, Director of the Illinois Soil Survey, 1928

“Soils are developed; they are not merely an accumulation of debris resulting from decay of rock and organic materials ... In other words, a soil is an entity — an object in nature which has characteristics that distinguish it from all other objects in nature.” — C.E. Millar & L.M. Turk, 1943

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” — Leonardo Da Vinci, circa 1500s

“We spend our lives hurrying away from the real, as though it were deadly to us. “It must be somewhere up there on the horizon,” we think. And all the time it is in the soil, right beneath our feet.” — William Bryant Logan, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

“Maps are a way of organizing wonder” — Peter Steinhart, 1986

“There is no such thing as a residual soil.” — Roger Parsons, 1981

“Soil mapping is possible only because men can examine a profile at one point and successfully predict its occurrence at another point where surface indications are similar.” — Author unknown

“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

“The greater number of landscapes I explored, the more it seemed that they had traits in common and that the essence of each was not its uniqueness but its similarity to others.” — J. B. Jackson, Concluding with the Landscapes, 1984

“... 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.” — Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977

“Beautiful rocks - Beautiful grass - Beautiful soil where they both combine - Beautiful river - Covering sky - Never thought of possession, but all this was mine.” — Bruce Cockburn, A Dream Like Mine, 1991

“A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the Earth’s hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.” — Wallace H. Fuller, Soils of the Desert Southwest, 1975

“... for 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, Soils in the New Zealand Landscape: The Living Mantle, 1988

“Now I know a refuge never grows from a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.” — Emily Saliers, Indigo Girls Album Nomads, Indians, Saints; Epic, 1990

“We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“A rainbow of soil is under our feet; red as a barn and black as a peat. It’s yellow as lemon and white as the snow; bluish gray. So many colors below. Hidden in darkness as thick as the night; the only rainbow that can form without light. Dig you a pit, or bore you a hole, you’ll find enough colors to well rest your soil.” — F.D. Hole, A Rainbow of Soil Words, 1985

“By sense of touch the feet assess the nature of the wilderness of earth beneath; yet human speech cannot express what feet can teach!
Walking, walking, walking on the earth!
The moment that a child can walk, Like that in which it first can talk, is a precious start of exploration into landscapes of creation what feet can teach!
Walking, walking, walking, walking on the earth!”

— F.D. Hole, Walking on the Earth, 1989

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“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

“Plowed ground smells of earthworms and empires.” — Justin Isherwood

“... 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

“For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.” — Xenophanes, 580 B.C.

“We might say that the earth has the spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“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

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” — Aldo Leopold

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