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Soil is what covers most of the land on Earth, making it the skin of our planet. It is the reason why plants and trees are strong and not easily picked. Soil also serves as a home for insects, worms, and other burrowing animals. It is composed of water, air, different minerals such as rock, sand, clay, and silt, and organic matter from dead plants and animals.
See the fact file below for more information on the soil or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Soil worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
HOW IS SOIL FORMED?
- Soil is formed over long periods of time.
- It can take up to 1000 years to form just an inch of soil.
- Soil is made up of four things: rock fragments, dead and living things, water, and air.
- The parent material, which is generally a huge rock, breaks down into smaller pieces with the help of rains and winds.
- Rocks can be broken down in two ways: physical or chemical weathering.
- Physical weathering happens when the rock is weakened and disintegrated by physical factors, such as temperature changes, friction, freezing, or heating.
- Chemical weathering happens when the rock is weakened and disintegrated under chemical reactions that alter the rock’s mineral.
- Chemical weathering processes can either form or destroy minerals through oxidation, hydrolysis, and carbonation.
- Oxidation happens when rock minerals react with oxygen.
- Carbonation happens when rock minerals react with carbonic acid, a chemical formed when water combines with carbon dioxide.
- Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction caused by water.
- Water makes rocks become less resistant to weathering because it changes their chemical composition and size of minerals present.
- Agents work their way to break down the parent rock to tiny particles of soil.
- Examples of agents are wind, water, plants, animals, and the sun’s heat.
- The weathered fragments are further broken down into smaller pieces to form sand and silt and then even further into finer particles.
- The organic matter decays and mixes with the rock fragments, minerals, and water to form soil.
- This process is continuously happening at a slow pace and the fine particles form the top layer of the soil.
FACTORS FOR SOIL FORMATION
- Living organisms, such as plant, fungi, animals, and bacteria, help the formation of soil.
- The topography of the area is the slope of the surface of land where the soil forms.
- The climate is a huge factor in soil formation.
- The type of rock being disintegrated to form the soil plays a huge role in its formation.
- This type is made up of 25% clay.
- The particles present in clay are very fine and bind very well.
- This type of soil holds a high amount of water.
- It remains wet and cold in winter which makes it very sticky and dry in summer, which is very hard like a rock.
- It has very little air spaces so it doesn’t drain water very well.
- Clay is generally formed in places where the parent rock has contact with water or steam.
- This type is light, warm, and dry.
- Sand drains water very easily and is relatively easy to work with.
- It has the largest, yet fine and hard particles with a very gritty texture.
- It is poor at holding water and easily warms up in summer.
- It is very low in nutrients because these nutrients are usually washed away.
- Particles are formed from weathering of shale, limestone, granite, and quartz.
- This soil is light and keeps moisture with a high fertility rate, meaning plants can be cultivated using this soil.
- It is composed of medium sized particles, which are finer.
- This soil can be easily compacted and is prone to being washed away by rain.
- It is formed when fine sediments, such as dust, organic matter, and debris, are carried by water and then deposited.
- When this soil is deposited and cemented with time, it forms what we call siltstone.
- It is a mixture of sand, clay, and silt particles.
- It has high water retention, calcium, and aeration.
- This is the ideal soil for most crops and vegetables.
- It is soft and very easy to cultivate.
- This is considered to be a gardener’s best friend.
- It is very dark in color.
- This soil is very high in organic matter and retains a huge amount of water.
- It is rarely found naturally in gardens but it is usually used in gardens as a soil base for planting.
- It has an acidic nature and this causes decomposition to discontinue.
- Chalky soil can either act as a light or heavy soil.
- It is always alkaline, with a pH of 7.5, due to the presence of calcium carbonate or lime.
- It is often stony in texture with a limestone bedrock.
- It is free draining due to its texture.
- Due to its alkalinity, this type of soil does not support the growth of acidic plants.
- This soil is not the best soil to use because it lacks iron and manganese.
- Soil has different layers which are arranged and these layers are called horizons.
- The sequence of these horizons is called a soil profile.
- The horizons are observed by their color and particle size.
- The layers of the soil have different features and these features determine the use of that particular soil.
- A mature soil has three complete layers: the topsoil, subsoil, and the parent rock.
- An immature soil only has 2 layers.
- Horizon O, or the organic horizon, is composed of mainly organic matter and is a thick layer of plant remains (leaves and twigs).
- Horizon A, or the topsoil, is roughly 5 to 10 inches thick and is composed of organic matter and minerals.
- Topsoil is where plants and organisms live and this is where seeds germinate.
- Horizon E, or the eluviation (leaching) layer, is mainly composed of sand and silts.
- Horizon B, also called the subsoil, is very rich in minerals because it accumulates the minerals that moved down from the A and E horizons.
- Horizon B is made primarily of clay, iron, and organic matter.
- Horizon C, or the regolith, is the surface where the soil or the upper layers developed from and it is mostly composed of huge rocks.
- Plant roots do not penetrate into horizon C and very little organic material is found in this layer.
- The last horizon, horizon R, is also called the bedrock.
- Horizon R is an unweathered large mass of rock composed of granite, basalt, quartzite, limestone, or sandstone.
- Soil is the only foundation where plants can grow.
- They provide a good filtration system for surface water and it is the reason why underground water (aquifers) is considered to be pure and clean.
- It is home to many organisms and they create a habitable environment for plant growth.
- It is good for maintaining the balance of atmospheric gases by regulating the amount of carbon dioxide present on the atmosphere.
- A pedologist is a scientist who studies soil.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about soil across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Soil worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the soil which is what covers most of the land on Earth, making it the skin of our planet. It is the reason why plants and trees are strong and not easily picked. Soil also serves as a home for insects, worms, and other burrowing animals. It is composed of water, air, different minerals such as rock, sand, clay, and silt, and organic matter from dead plants and animals.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Soil Facts
- Soil Formation
- Picture The Processes
- Four Factors
- Soil Types
- Different Uses
- Soil Word Hunt
- Horizon Holes
- Health Matters
- Information Review
- Identifying Importance
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Link will appear as Soil Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, March 26, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.