Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sampling Soil at Lincoln Elementary

By: Chiugo, McKayla, Ryan, Savannah, Michaela

As kids, they were naturally enthusiastic and did not need a reason to be outside or getting themselves dirty. The group that we had, were very interested in figuring out the soil type that would be suitable for growing the crops or fruits and vegetables that they like oranges, apples, etc. After explaining the three soil types, the students believed that the clay soils was the most suitable and better for growing plants because of the water and nutrient contents that would help nourish the soil.

Soil is a life giving natural resource that is of extreme importance. As the number of people living on earth and food production demand increases, a healthy soil is necessary for sustaining the world population. According to the USDA report, Soil health, also referred to as soil quality, is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. The definition shows how important controlling or managing the soil is to provide sustainability for future generations. Good soil structure, texture and the colour have an important effect on the healthiness of the soil and its fertility. When good soil structure produces pore spaces that encourages root penetration and easy passage of water, nutrients and air which assist in improving the soil health. 

 Soil texture affects the soils physical, chemical, and biological properties that refers to the size and relative proportions of sand, silt and clay in the soil e.g. sand grains are large and coarse, clay particles are very fine and smooth and silt particles intermediate. This is an important soil property influenced by texture that affects the soil health. Soil water fills up small spaces around the soil particles. Sandy soil shave a large pore space between particles and hold less water than clay soils however, clay soils have the greatest ability to retain water content as well as nutrients at field capacity. They also resist the wind and water erosion.

Sandy soils increases soil aeration, resists compaction and increases the soil’s porosity. All the different characteristics of the soil textures are beneficial to the soil health as it retains the water and nutrients that the soil needs to be fertile and increase the soil’s capacity to store plant nutrients. Soil color is helpful in determining soil properties. A dark brown or black colored soil indicates its high organic matter content and fertility. A red or yellowish soil shows good aeration and proper drainage. A white color, resulting from the accumulation of salts of alkali indicates deterioration of soil fertility and its unsuitability for normal growth of many crops.

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Sources:
1. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/
2. http://www.organicriskmanagement.umn.edu/soil_health3.html
3. http://www.soilhealth.com/soil-health/fertility/physical.htm
4. http://www.ecochem.com/t_soil_aeration.html






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