Crazy how it sounds!

Hobby gardener Susanne Cetkovic listened to her soil—and was impressed.

By Peter Lüthi, Biovision

As part of a Biovision Citizen Science project, Susanne Cetkovic listened to the soil at various locations in her garden—including in the compost.

«The sound safari began in the vegetable patch.» That’s where Susanne Cetkovic switched on her recording device, gently pushed the sound sensor into the loose soil and turned up the volume. «There I heard this croaking and creaking», she says, «just crazy, how it sounds!» And that was only the beginning. In the compost, the variety of sounds was even greater. «I imagined what was nibbling, crawling and digging in there,» she says. The biggest highlight was the soil under the plum tree. «I had left this soil alone for years and never changed anything», says Cetkovic. That’s where she recorded a 24-hour sound clip. 

Taking better care of the soil

Other people have also made full-day recordings. 80 people participated last summer in the citizen science campaign of Biovision's «Sounding Soil» project. Their results are now available for further exploration. 

«With this project, we want to draw public attention to the importance of soil as the basis of life, a water and CO2 reservoir and the foundation of our nutrition», explains Sabine Lerch, who is responsible for the project at Biovision. «We want our society to care much more for the soil», she says, «from their gardening and shopping to voting at the polls».

For Cetkovic, it is clear: «Today, the soil is more important to me than the lettuce that grows from it», she stresses. This idea had already come to her mind 36 years ago, when she tackled the mites in her lettuce bed with an insecticide. She was frightened that the package instructed to avoid direct skin contact with the product and to refrain from eating the lettuce treated with it for three weeks. The amateur gardener attended courses in organic farming and radically changed her approach. «The sounds I now hear from my soil are living proof that all these years without poison—but full of manual labour, compost and mulch—have been worthwhile,» she says.

Would you like to hear how your soil sounds? Register now: www.soundingsoil.ch/mitmachen.

At www.soundingsoil.ch/zuhoeren you can listen to recordings of different soils all over Switzerland.