If you took a handful of soil, more microorganisms reside in the soil than people on Earth.

Soil are compound mixtures found at the upper most layer of the surface of the Earth. It is mostly loose materials that are composed of rock, minerals, water, and decaying plant and animal matter. Soil has all the nutrients and raw materials needed for the growth of plant life. Plants are vital for the continuation of life on Earth; hence soil is an essential material for life as well it provides shelter for many different animals as dig they into it and use it for their needs. This material also has a natural capacity to filter and clean water which is a crucial compound for life.

Soil is composed of five distinctive layers. The topmost layer is composed of the remains of leaves and twigs. This organic material provides plenty of nutrients for plants. Just below that layer is topsoil which is where a variety of minerals are located. Subsoil is found beneath topsoil which is mostly clay and minerals. Large rocks are found beneath the subsoil they provide a foundation for all layers that sit on top of it. The primary foundation is located below this and is called the bedrock. This series of science reading worksheets investigates many different aspects of soil including the composition of a rich and fertile medium for plants and other living organisms. We look at the rocks and minerals that can contribute to the positive health of an ecosystem. For the first time students will begin the value the role that decomposers have for the environment. Students explore the benefits and challenges that are presented by consistent erosion of the Earth’s surface. Students also look at how water and flows of it contribute to shaping landforms.

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Printable Soil Worksheets

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What is Soil?

It takes a very long time for soil to form, and the formation depends on different factors, including the topography of the land and the climate of the surrounding area.

Questions

There are different kinds of soil with different characteristics. One of the main ways that these things can differ is in their texture: is it more like sand, silt, or clay?

Soil Horizons

Soil is composed of layers that we call horizons. Different types have different numbers of horizons.

QUESTIONS: Horizons

In which horizon do plants and other organisms make their home?

The Functions of Soil

This is where nutrients on Earth are recycled, including important nutrients like carbon and nitrogen.

QUESTIONS: Functions

Different kinds of soils in different locations may absorb, hold, release, change, and/or purify Earth's water. It also filters water.

Erosion

Over millions of years, erosion shapes the landscape. Erosion can form hills when displaced material gets shifted and piled up somewhere else.

QUESTIONS: Erosion

Why is erosion a problem for farmers?

What Lives in the Soil?

Decomposers produce enzymes that break down plant and animal waste laying on the surface of the Earth into smaller parts.

QUESTIONS: What Lives in the Soil?

Soilborne diseases like Rhizoctonia canker, black dot, Verticillium wilt, and common scab can make plants sick and unsuitable for eating.

Nutrition

Because they are available in small amounts and only needed by living organisms in small amounts, we call these nutrients trace elements.

QUESTIONS: Nutrition

What's wrong with monoculture?

Water

The process by which water reaches the subsoil where plant roots are located, as well as the movement of water down past the root zone, is called permeability.

QUESTIONS: Water

Ponding is the holding back or damming up of water to form a pond or small lake.

Decomposition

Organisms that participate in the decomposition process are called decomposers. There are more than a hundred thousand kinds of decomposers.

QUESTIONS: Decomposition

What is the relationship between climate change and decomposition?

Food Security

Erosion can pull valuable nutrients out of the soil and concentrate them in other areas, for example, in bodies of water, the quality of which then becomes compromised.

QUESTIONS: Food Security

Which of the following is NOT a consequence of excess salinity?

Human Health

We say that we have food security when everyone has enough safe and nutritious food to eat.

QUESTIONS: Human Health

What four major elements make up 99% of the human body?