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Is Soil a Renewable Resource? Non Renewable but it Can be Reused

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Soil is reusable and can be renewed by adding substrates. However, whether it can be renewed is debatable in some cases. 

Soil is a renewable resource. It can be renewed through organic matter decomposition and microorganisms that break down organic matter into plant nutrients, carbon, and water. Healthy soil has a high organic matter content, providing plants with the energy to grow.

Soil can be reused after being amended. However, it is impossible to renew its original form naturally as it takes thousands upon thousands of years to form correctly.

This article will share everything you need to know about soil renewability and what you can do to help soil regain its vigor. 

Can Soil Regenerate As Fast As It Is Being Depleted?

Is Soil Reneable

Soil can be reused but not renewed naturally as fast as it is depleted. There are several reasons for this statement:

  1. Soil has a very slow regeneration rate, meaning it takes thousands of years to regenerate naturally.
  1. The amount of organic matter required for regeneration is also very large and cannot be produced within a short period of time.
  1. Man’s interference with nature makes it difficult for plants and animals to produce organic matter in soils.

What Makes Soil Renewable?

The only thing that makes soil renewable is its ability to regain the depleted nutrient content. After gaining all the sufficient nutrients and minerals, the soil can be used to grow plants again. 

Can You Reuse Soil?

Soil on top of sand

Yes, you can reuse soil. You might not want to spend extra bucks to purchase good soil when you know that your soil is doing well. But at the same time, you don’t want to compromise on your plant growth. 

In this case, you can revitalize your old soil by providing it with all the essential nutrients and minerals. 

Your plants will grow well in the revitalized soil. However, you might face certain troubles when reusing old potting soil, even if it is revitalized. 

The new potting soil that previously worked well was rich in nutrients and minerals, mainly potassium and nitrogen. But the soil gets depleted over time as the plant sucks the nutrients in it. 

5 Negative Properties of Used Soil

1. Depleted Nutrients

Dying houseplant

The soil cannot suffice the nutritional hunger of the new plants. Even if it is revitalized again, it does not work as well as new soil. 

2. Compaction

If used thoroughly, the soil becomes compacted. Then it might not drain out the excess water properly. 

3. Weeds

removing weeds

The used soil may contain seeds of several weeds. You cannot always sort them out as they are microscopic and remain underneath the soil. 

These seeds germinate in favorable environments and absorb the rest of the nutrients. Thus, plants run out of food.

4. Bacteria


The soil might be affected by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. It is rarely possible to separate them from the soil.

5. Old Roots

Roots in Garden Soil

The roots of the prior plants sometimes remain underneath the soil’s surface. Though you remove the upper parts of plants, you do not always pay enough attention to removing those residues. 

These may rot up along with residual leaves, fruits, and stems lying on the soil’s surface and cause fungi growth. Therefore, it hinders the development of the plant.

That’s why it is always best to provide fresh, new soil to your plants to help them grow to their full potential. Remember to not use any soil for more than 2-3 years. 

How To Amend Soil For Reuse?

Adding soil amendments

If your plant grew healthy last time, you could go with that very soil for the second time. Before using it twice, you must follow a few easy steps to give your plant healthy growth by amending the soil. 

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Remove old roots and debris.
    As the roots, leaves, and other plant parts of the previous plant contain various pathogens, use a sieve to separate this debris from your old soil. This step works wonders in getting rid of fungi.
  2. Loose up your compacted soil using a fork or garden rake. This step will make your soil fluffy and help it drain excess water.
  3. Change the pH of your soil by adding Lime or Perlite to it. Keep the pH within 6.4 to increase the efficacy of the soil.
  4. Top up your old soil using new soil.
    This simple step will add to the fertility and porosity of the soil. Moreover, the underlying seeds of weeds fail to germinate in this new soil. Now your garden is weed-free.
  5. Add a slow-release fertilizer to your soil
    Use organic Vermicompost to bring back the nutrients that the soil previously contained. It is the process of serving plants organic material through earthworms.

    It is a highly beneficial procedure. You can also lay your hands on liquid fertilizer, perlite, and vermiculite.
  6. Sieve out the extra salt from your soil.
    Use rainwater on your plants. Tap water causes a salt build-up in the ground. So, filter it out before using it.
  7. Revitalize your soil using organic compost or mulch.
  8. Kill or stunt the growth of pathogens by following the methods mentioned below:


Pour boiling water into your soil. Baking the soil at a high temperature inside the micro oven might also help. Pasteurization kills almost all the microorganisms in the soil and increases the plant’s growth.

However, this process has a disadvantage. It causes the emission of a foul smell. 


Put the soil into black-colored plastic bags. Lock the open side and leave it in sunlight for around four to six weeks on the hottest summer days. Doing so will make your soil microbe-free, and your garden will flourish. 

However, this process also has a disadvantage. In solarization, the beneficial microorganisms are also harmed along with the pathogens. This can lead to a loss of fertility of the soil. 

Can Soil Be Depleted (So That It Cannot Be Reused- Barren Soil)?

Yes, the soil gets depleted if used over and again. In this state, the soil is called barren soil. 

Barrenness is the particular state of soil in which the soil cannot help plants grow as it becomes sterile. It lacks all the nutrients necessary for plant growth. 

Soil depletion may happen due to:

  • Soil erosion
  • Removal of the upper surface of soil that contains a significant amount of nutrients
  • Intense and continuous use of soil for cropping
  • Complete banishment of residual crop material
  • Mining of nutrients
  • The acidic nature of soil due to acid rain and the use of nitrogenous fertilizers
  • Excessive use of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides

It is possible to revive fertility in barren soil. Revitalization of soil is done in many ways.

Before growing crops, you can plant alfalfa, clover, beans, peas or vetch, etc. This will help in nitrogen fixation within the soil. Water harvesting might also help.

Can You Plant In Barren Soil?

You can, but it is better not to. It will cause your plants to droop, and they will eventually die. The barren soil being dehydrated cannot retain water. 

So, the plant dries out. It contains the least nutrients and microorganisms. In addition, there can be heavy metals and toxic chemicals in barren soil. 

So, spare your plants the damage that is caused by the use of sterile soil. It is better to buy new soil and use that to grow plants. 

The Takeaway

Soil can be renewed if its formation surpasses its rate of degradation. Its ability to be restored dramatically depends on the environment in which it is present. But, it is possible to reuse soil after amending it or by repleting its nutrient level. 

However, using old soil has a few disadvantages. You can only reuse old soil only a few times before it becomes completely useless. 

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