Lesson Plan - Get It!
Does your family recycle materials, like glass and paper? Why do we recycle materials? Did you know it is good to recycle soil as well?
Recycling helps decrease the amount of trash or waste dumped on the Earth.
Even water can be recycled through the water cycle! (Check out the Elephango lesson under Additional Resources for more information.)
Soil is another natural resource that can be recycled, but it has to be taken care of! You have learned how important soil is in our world, and that it takes a long time to develop. So, it is important that we take good care of our soil. Soil conservation means to protect the soil from damage.
If you missed or would like a refresher on previous Soil lessons, check them out in the right-hand sidebar under Related Lessons.
Soil damage can happen when soil is lost due to rain or wind or when the ability to support life decreases. Soil conservation tries to keep either of these things from happening.
Soil can be lost through erosion. Erosion is the process by which soil and other materials are swept away by water, wind, and gravity. Using plants as anchors for soil can reduce the amount of soil loss. The roots from the plants keep the soil from blowing or moving away.
Soil can lose its ability to sustain life when it is overused or treated with too many fertilizers. There are soil conservation techniques that help protect the health of soil.
Changing the way we plant our crops can help prevent soil loss. Have you ever seen crop fields on the side of a mountain?
Using flat sections instead of planting on a hill reduces the amount of soil that is pulled down by water and gravity. Barriers can be placed at the bottom of a slope to trap any soil that does run off.
Many farmers rotate where they grow crops, because it helps keep valuable nutrients in the soil. They may plant corn in the summer and squash in the winter.
Other farmers will plant crops but not harvest them. That allows the plant to replace nutrients that were lost from the soil. Bacteria help break the plant back down into nutrient-rich soil.
Keeping track of the amount of water and fertilizer added to soil can help protect it, too! Soil with too much water can be harmful to plants, while soil with too much fertilizer may dry out.
Soil is an important resource in our world. It helps us grow plants for food, purifies water and the air, and is home to many organisms. While it is reusable, it can be damaged or lost. Protecting soil through conservation helps us continue to grow food and live in a green world.
Brainstorm six ways that farmers could protect soil based on what you learned on soil conservation. Did you know there have been times when the soil was so badly damaged, nothing could grow?
In the Got It? section, you will learn more about the Dust Bowl, which occurred in the Midwest after the loss of fertile soil.