For the InstructorThese student materials complement the A Growing Concern Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Unit 2: Soil Characteristics and Their Relationship to Land Use Practices
Humanity's growing population and demand for food has led us to rely heavily on industrialized agriculture, whose methods impact soil significantly. How we till the soil and what we plant in it causes changes in the composition, porosity, and permeability, all of which affect the erodibility of the soil. As a result, we need to understand how to measure these soil properties and learn how to solve erodibility problems caused by losses in porosity and permeability.
In this short pre-work assignment you will read basic information about soil and provide written answers to questions so that you can begin the unit with a basic understanding of the nature of soil and its properties.
Start by reading the following and answering the questions below:
Reading for Unit 2 Pre-Work: What is Soil? (Acrobat (PDF) 385kB Jul31 14)
- In the main (first) section "What Is Soil?", which three critical functions that soil performs do you think apply to agriculture and why?
- What are the five components of soil as listed in the section "How Does Soil Form?"
- What are the five major factors that control how a soil forms as listed in the section "How Does Soil Form?"
- As listed in the section "Soil Types", there are 12 soil types and each state and territory in the United States has a representative soil, like a state flower or bird. Find your state/territory soil by going to: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/soilsurvey/soils/survey/state/. What is the name of your state/territory's representative soil and which crops are grown in it?
- In the section "What Makes Soil, Soil?" what are the three particle sizes listed?
- What is a loamy soil texture?
- What moves within the pore spaces between peds?
- Finally, what soil is described as being the best for farmland, and why is it considered the best?