Nutrients in Soil

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11587

Dirt is something we step on and wash off our hands and clothes, but without it, we would not be here! Dirt contains all the stuff plants need to live, which allows other things to live too!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you know that one tablespoon of soil has more organisms (living creatures, most of which you can't see) in it than there are people on earth?

Soil is packed full of stuff that makes it possible to feed plants and make them grow. Learn all about what kinds of nutrients are found in soil and how they are important for all human beings!

  • What are nutrients?

Nutrients are the stuff that people, plants, and animals need to grow and stay healthy. Without nutrients, no living thing would live. All living things need nutrients.

An example of a nutrient is a vitamin. Vitamins are found in the food you eat, and even in sunlight! Some people take a vitamin every day to help make sure they have all they need.

  • Do you take one?

fruit and vegetables

  • So, if all things that grow in the earth need nutrients, how do plants get those things?
  • Can they take a vitamin pill?

Plants get nutrients from living things in the soil. There are many living things in soil, and when they decompose or die, they leave nutrients in the soil.

They also give the soil nutrients when they leave behind waste. Waste is the stuff that the body does not need or want, and needs to come out, like urine (pee), feces (poop), and sweat. The waste that comes out of the living things in soil has lots of nutrients that feed the plants.

Without the animals to leave the waste, the soil would not get the nutrients it needs to create the food that we grow.

  • Isn't it amazing how all of these things have to work together to make our food?

 Phosphorus Cycle

  • Now that you understand there are nutrients in waste, and that it is important for those vitamins to make it into the soil, do you wonder how it gets down into the ground?

Write down three or four ways you think the nutrients get into the soil. You can draw a picture, too. Give one serious answer and two or three funny ones.

  • Do you think aliens mash it into the soil?
  • What about tiny gremlins in the soil that come up and grab it?

After you have written down or drawn your thoughts, share them with someone.

Now that you did some creative thinking, you will learn how nutrients really get into the soil.

Plants have roots that grow in the soil, and that is where the nutrients are absorbed. Bacteria in the soil feed on dead creatures, such as dead worms. As the bacteria eat, they free nutrients from the dead creature's body. Those nutrients mix into the soil.

People put nutrients into soil when they use fertilizer in their gardens. Fertilizer helps plants grow because it is full of nutrients.

The nutrients in soil mix with water. When plant roots take in water, they also take in nutrients. When the soil is too dry, plants cannot take in the nutrients in soil. Plants will die if they do not get enough nutrients.

Wow! Without all of those parts working together, all the plants on the earth wouldn't have a chance to survive!

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