Soil Health Soil is a vertically differentiated matrix of mineral and organic material, air, and water. Each layer, or soil horizon, has unique physical and chemical properties that mediate the flow of energy through the ground and into its resident organisms. Soil Health: Soil Structure & Texture Mineralogy Plant Available Water Cation Exchange & pH Salinity & Sodicity Healthy soils contain about 5% organic matter, 45% mineral particles, and 50% pore space filled with air and water. Although only comprising a fraction of total soil material, organic matter influences all aspects of soil development and the resulting characteristics, including structure, nutrient availability, and more. Soils are alive. Containing a complex combination of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, soils provide the ecological foundation for all terrestrial life. Soils require thousands of years to develop, but may be destroyed in only a couple of generations. Therefore, soils are considered non-renewable, or slowly renewable resources. In order for us to protect future generations of farmers and secure the nation’s food supply, we must carefully manage and conserve our soils.