Sand is made up of larger particles and typical only contains broken down fragments of hard materials such as rock and coral. Dirt is typically comprised of much smaller fragments and contains many more elements. Dirt contains sand, broken down clay, and decomposed plants, animals, and animal waste. Dirt has the capability to support much more life as it contains the necessary nutrients.
While dirt is often largely made up of organic material, sand is mostly mineral. That is why we find sand on beaches, and grow crops in dirt. Dirt happens over millenia as generations of plants and animals die and are broken down by composting organisms. This leaves behind carbon, nitrogen, and other useful building blocks of life to be used by later generations. Dirt does contain minerals, but is not primarily that the way sand is. Another interesting component of sand is its ability to harbor life in the form of seeds. On the rare occasions a desert sees rain it often blooms with an abundance of uncontrolled growth for very short period. This is due to all of the seeds that lie dormant over the long stretches between a good shower.
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