Unit 3: Soils

Students and teachers examine soil samples in the field


Unit 3 gives an overview of the creation, composition, and transportation of soil. It provides a basis for understanding the role of soil in the production process, with special emphasis on the retention of soil.

This is an introductory-level unit. Teachers with a limited knowledge of soil science may apprciate the additional readings provided on the website. 

Unit Placement in the Course: 

This unit is foundational for later units on water, carbon, and nitrogen. Knowledge of the soil and its immense capacity to store and release carbon is critical to understanding the role of carbon and nitrogen cycles in agriculture and climate change.

Required Supplies: 

  • Activity 1: Textural Triangle:
    • Handouts
    • Colored Pencils
  • Activity 2: Determining Soil Textural Class by Feel:
    • Spray bottle filled with water
    • Sink (to wash hands, do not put soil in the sink)
    • Paper towels
    • A variety of soil samples (student supplied from various locations, or your own)
  • Activity 3: Google Earth Soil Conservation Practices
    • Computers, 1 per student preferred

Materials Provided: 

  • PowerPoint Presentation
  • Lab Activities
  • Teacher notes on most slides to help guide classroom discussion
  • Readings from which teachers can choose based on local need and interest

Estimated Teaching Time: 

  • Five 50-minute class periods, maybe longer (See unit summary for more information.)