I think I have always been destined to have a job or the type of life where I can get my hands really dirty. I come from an agricultural background and as far back as I can remember, I have always felt a very strong pull towards our “land.” There is a very childlike feeling of happiness when I get to push my fingers into the soil and feel it go in under my nails. I suppose I am not your typical girl.
My favourite soil is the Kalahari desert soil. There is no real scientific basis for my choice of favourite soil, seeing as the Kalahari soils are not overly fertile and poor for plant growth, have low organic matter content and in some places tend to be toxically alkaline (pH > 7). Kalahari desert soils are aeolian soils, that are formed by wind, and have a beautiful red colour. The Kalahari desert soils are classified as Arenosols and they cover large areas of Africa and Southern Africa.
Map of the Kalahari region (CC image from Wikispaces Group-Ethnographies)
These soils contain no more that 35% rock fragments in the surface 100mm layer. In the figure below the soil profile and the very characteristic red colour can be observed.
Sampling Arenosol, or Kalahari desert soil (CC by K.Caylor)
So why is this my favourite soil type? Maybe it is because some of the world’s best grapes are produced on some of these red soils? Or maybe it is just the magnetic red colour that mesmerize me, or maybe the Kalahari desert soil is my favourite soil because it is from the land I come from? Whatever the reason, this is my favourite soil type and as the saying of the Kalahari desert people go: “Once that red sand has gotten stuck under your finger nails, you will forever want to return to this soil.”