Dictionary definition: Noun.

  • 1. Earth or soil.
  • 2. A filthy or soiling substance, such as mud, dirt or excrement.

It is really hard to find a concise definition of what DIRT actually is, since it is quite clear that soil science renounces dirt as beloging to the definition of soil, which is regarded as being made exclusively by nature, as it exists in UNDISTURBED (by man) form.

OK - let's establish dirt as being separate from earth or soil in UNDISTURBED form. That's supported by Pennsylvania State University as one example: http://www.dirtandgravel.psu.edu/. Soil that is used to build roads has been excavated/disturbed as well as changed, and definitely moved and compacted. They call it Dirt. So rocks and crushed rock can be part of dirt. Interesting. That means minerals are part of dirt. Soil is made from eroded rock.

Therefore, the definition of dirt should at least be: Soil disturbed by man. And perhaps add: which can no longer be put back into it's original form (to ensure that dirt cannot ever revert to being soil again). Now soil scientists should be happy.

But we're still not 'home free' yet - because dirt is more than just NOT something. It still needs to BE something more than just rocks. To make it different from soil - which is only minerals. According to soil classification, SOIL is either sand, silt or clay. Each individually, or any part of any of them together. And that's all. Nothing more or less is required.

Alright - now we're at least on the right track. It can be a 'soiling substance' - even to being excrement. Animal poop. Manure. Well, that fits - because manures of every kind are a recognized compost feedstock.

Aha!! So compost fits into the definition of dirt too. Very nice. That means ORGANIC MATERIAL also fits - because that's what most poop is - animal-digested organic material. Which means that enzymes and hormones are included, 'cause there's lots of those in manure from the animal digestion/assimilation process.

And where do enzymes come from? Why, microbes of course. So - microbiology is part of dirt too. Which means that ORGANIC MATTER is part of soil too - because that's what microbes make out of organic material. Which becomes HUMUS !!! Oh my, this is getting exciting. So far, dirt is looking better than soil.

But there's more. Critters. Yup. Critters also help turn organic material into organic matter. Not just bacteria, fungi and actinobacteria (microbes), but also protozoa - and algae - and larger things called "decomposers". Tiny little beings. Wow - even earthworms and larger creatures too. Amazing. Dirt IS healthy for plants !! Mississippi State University is WRONG!! http://www.thesoilguy.com/SG/SoilScienceIsWhat?

Oh my. Did I say that a U.S. land grant university could publish information that was NOT TRUE ??? Omigod. A Master Gardener organization that promulgates incorrect information to the public ?? My 'bubble' has just been burst. What to do?

Well, reckon I'm gonna just have to come up with a definition myself, since I can't trust .edu anymore... And they weren't much help anyway.

So here it is:
"A physical substance that may contain minerals and/or organic substances including live and/or dead organisms and such other solids, liquids and gasses as the discretion of man deems appropriate ~ from 'disturbed soil' to a media designed specifically for the propagation of plant life - and anything in between - as long as it is dirty."

Dirt - as defined by The SoilGuy.

© 2009 Robert C. Moore ~ All Rights Reserved

Click Here to see: Compost Containments
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