Is Soil A Renewable or Nonrenewable Resource?

A Substance is said to be renewable when it can be replaced or replenished at the same rate at which it gets exhausted. In the case of the soil, it can either be renewable or nonrenewable. In agriculture, one may argue that soil is a renewable resource. That may be true because fertilizers and other farming additives can replace the soil nutrients. That will only apply when addressing soil nutrients since the idea does not consider processes involved in the formation of soil and other benefits of soil; instead, it is only based on the components of soil.
To get to understand soil renewability, one has to look at factors of soil formation, its general use, and also its components. These factors of soil formation are parents rack, time of formation, relief, the climate of the area (temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure, etc.), and the living organisms. Also, renewing soil will entail regaining the essential elements of land, which include: soil water, minerals, soil air, and also the size of the soil granules should also be able to allow the soil to exhibit its importance.

Parent Rock or Parent Material and The Soil Elements

These are the materials found in the bedrock from which soil forms. The parent rock or the parent material may be soft or hard. The hardness of the parent rock significantly affects the rate at which the soil is replenished. In the case of the soft or the finer materials, the rate of soil formation will be rapid, unlike the case of hard rock. During soil formation, erosion may occur more rapidly than they are replaced. That leads to the total loss of essential elements such as nitrogen, potassium, calcium, iron, etc.

However, some types of degradation can maintain the productivity of soil, such as; chemical method of degradation in humid regions, which is common in the limestone area where PH is high for crop production. That helps to give back the PH that has been reduced due to erosion and also leaching. That will commonly apply in areas of the soft parent rock.


The ability of the soil to recover will significantly depend on the climate of the area. That is because the elements of weather play a significant role in soil formation.


Living organism contributes to the component of soil such as soil water, soil air, soil nutrients, etc. In case soil organisms are absent, parts of soil may not be replenished with ease.


Soil may also become unproductive or lose its value by salinization. Salinization involves the accumulation of salt in the soil. Salinization is mainly associated with flooding and also the method of irrigation. It is also common in land adjacent to the rivers flowing in dry valleys.

Salinity can be lowered by leaching the salt, which is only possible when there is platy of water. The water can either be gotten from the aquifer, a river, or even from precipitation. That makes it take a longer time for the soil to regain its relevance. Where soil minerals get leached, sometimes it becomes possible to replace them. That is possible by adding artificial fertilizers, which will supply the soil with the lost nutrients, both micronutrients, and macronutrients. Replaced nutrients quickly get depleted since they’re not provided in the right quantity to sustain the soil, soil organism and to maintain the right amount compared to the natural way.

Soil water

Soil water may get lost through evaporation seepage or being used up by the plants. Once used up, it can either be replaced by precipitation, irrigation, or by water from the aquifer. In case there is no immediate precipitation, irrigation becomes the best. In arid and semiarid areas where there is no enough water, replacing the lost water becomes a problem. That makes it more of a nonrenewable resource. Soil water is mainly gotten from the aquifer when it gets depleted at a faster rate than it is recharged; therefore, water becomes nonrenewable, which in return cannot renew the soil.


Soil renewability will depend on the conditions to which it is exposed to. These conditions are the factors of soil formation, components of the soil lost, the ease to replenish, and the time taken to replenish.

Written by M Eduard

M. Eduard was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. Eduard spent his MBA summer internship at Sungevity, a residential solar energy retail company in Oakland, CA. He started this website to share his knowledge about renewable energy.