Fernandez interviewed for BDN article on Maine soil

The Bangor Daily News interviewed Ivan Fernandez, a professor of soil science at the University of Maine, for an article on Maine soil. Above all, Fernandez emphasizes that soil is not dirt — there is so much more to it. With a classification system identifying 23,000 different series across the country and 119 in Maine, soil has a diverse array of forms and serves many purposes, from agriculture to storing water and antibiotics. The soils in Maine are relatively young, dating back to the last ice age about 10,000 years ago, Fernandez told the BDN. Glaciers deposited clay, clay mixtures, silt, sand, gravel and boulders across the state in different combinations and distributions. The soil in Aroostook County, for example, contains more calcium carbonates that supply nutrients to plants, making it an ideal place for the region’s well-known agriculture. Maine even has an official soil, the Chesuncook series, which is widely distributed throughout the state and is a very deep, moderately well-drained soil formed by glacial till. Fernandez said people should know their soil, and for soil that is too sandy or too full of clay, he recommends adding fresh organic materials to help sandy soil hold water and nutrients, and to help clay-like soil drain better. Soil can play a role in climate change as well by storing carbon. “If we do things that add carbon to the soil by adding manures and sustainable cropping and sustainable forestry, the soil has a tremendous capacity to increase its carbon content [and] that is a way to address greenhouse emissions as we deal with climate change,” Fernandez said, noting the importance of caring for soil. “It won’t take much to degrade [the soil] if we stop paying attention to it, and that will cost us all.”