Soil Conservation

Contributor: Hannah Brooks. Lesson ID: 12450

Doesn't it seem like soil is everywhere? Can you imagine running out of it like you could run out of milk or bread? Good soil needs to be conserved so we don't run out of it and not have it for crops!


Earth Science, People and Their Environment

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • 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, we must take good care of our soil.

Soil conservation means to protect the soil from damage.

Green section of a grass with the soil and roots under blue sky

Soil damage can happen when soil is lost due to rain or wind or 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 of 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 how we plant our crops can help prevent soil loss.

  • Have you ever seen crop fields on the side of a mountain?

Stunning Green and Yellow Rice Terraces, Landscape in the Ifugao Mountains of the Philippines

Using flat sections instead of planting on a hill reduces the soil pulled down by water and gravity. Barriers can be placed at the bottom of a slope to trap any soil that does run off.

Erosion control on a slope with straw sock catch, silt fence, st

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.

Rows of young corn shoots on a cornfield

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 into nutrient-rich soil.

Keeping track of the amount of water and fertilizer added to the soil can help protect it, too! Soil with too much water can harm 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 farmers could protect soil based on what you learned about soil conservation.

  • Did you know there have been times when the soil was so badly damaged that 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.

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