Collect and Study Soil from at Least Two Different Sites

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Soil

Soils are a complex combination of organic matter, gases, minerals, organisms and liquids, that altogether supports our life. Earth's body of soil is called the pedosphere, which has four important functions:It is a medium for plant growth, it stores water, supplies, and purifies, it is a modifier of earth's atmosphere, it is a habitat for organisms. Soil is one of the principal substrata of life on earth, which is a participant in the cycling of carbon and other elements through the global ecosystem. To study the texture of soil samples and a few more go through the experiment below.


An Experiment to Study the Texture of Soil Samples

Aim:

To study the texture of soil samples,

To study the moisture content of the soil samples,

To study capacity of holding water of soil samples,

To study the pH of the soil samples.


Apparatus Required:

Roadside and garden soil to be used. Other materials apart from the samples are:

  1. Dropper

  2. Beaker

  3. Tile

  4. Measuring cylinder

  5. Filter paper

  6. pH paper booklet

  7. Test tubes

  8. Distilled water

  9. Funnel

  10. Universal pH indicator solution

  11. Wire gauze

  12. Burner

  13. Crucibles

  14. Weighing scale

  15. Mortar and pestle

  16. Petri dish

  17. Glass rods

  18. Tin box with perforated bottom


Procedure:

The steps to analyse various properties:

To Study the Texture of Soil Samples,

  • Collect 50 gm of soil in a cylinder.

  • Pour a little water into the cylinder and shake.

  • Wait for the particles to settle down.

  • The particles in the measuring cylinder will start settling down in layers. Record the thickness of these layers.


To Study the Moisture Content of the Soil Samples,

  • Put the two samples of soil in different crucibles.

  • Weight the samples using a weighing balance.

  • Place the crucibles over the Bunsen burner and heat it until it becomes dry.

  • Weight the crucibles and record the weight of the dry soil samples.

  • The samples are now ready to be used to determine the moisture content of the soil.


To Study the Holding Capacity of Water of Soil Samples,

  • Take a soil sample in a mortar.

  • Grind it into a fine powder.

  • Place a filter paper at the bottom of the box.

  • Weigh the entire contents of the tin box and add the powered soil into the box.

  • Use the glass rod to press and tap the box so that the soil is uniformly layered.

  • Measure and record the weight of the tin box.

  • Take two glass rods placing them parallel to each other. Ensure that the distance between the two is not significant.

  • Position the tin on the two glass rods such that the bottom is in contact with the water.

  • This setup should be left undisturbed until the water seeps through the upper surface of the soil.

  • Remove the tin and allow all the water to flow out from the bottom.

  • Wait until no more water percolates from the tin. Then, wipe the bottom dry and note down the weight using the weighing machine.


To Study the ph of the Soil Samples,

  • Take the roadside soil and put it into a beaker containing water. Repeat the steps for the garden soil sample as well.

  • Take a test tube and pour the soil solutions separately through filter papers using a funnel.

  • The collected filtrates in the test tube are ready for pH testing.

  • Put a few drops of universal indicator solution using a dropper to the test tube.


Observation:

To study the moisture content of the soil samples:

The sample where the initial and final weight is the larger indicated higher moisture content and if lower indicates the lower moisture.

To study the ph of the soil samples:

The colour changes are trackable using the pH colour chart. Roadside soil has pH level of 7 while garden soil has pH level of 6. Maximum crops grow between pH levels of 6.0 and 7.0.


Solved Examples

Question: What are the layers of soil?

Answer: The layers of soil are topsoil, subsoil and parent rock.


Fun Facts

  1. It contains organisms in one tablespoon of soil more than there are people on earth.

  2. Even to form an inch of topsoil it may take nearly 500 years.

  3. 0.01 percent of the water on earth is held in the soil.

  4. Soil lies at the bottom of the food chain. Still, it is the cornerstone of life on the earth.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1: What are the Types of Soil?

Answer: Soil is classified into six types:

  • Sandy soil – a type of soil with a high percentage of sand, or large soil particles. 

  • Silt soil – a light and moisture-retentive soil type soil with a high fertility rating.

  • Clay soil – a heavy soil type that benefits from high nutrients.

  • Loamy soil – a mixture of soil that is the ideal plant-growing medium.

  • Peaty soil – a type of soil made up of waterlogged partially-decomposed plant material.

  • Chalky soil – a soil which may be light or heavy but is mostly made up of calcium carbonate and is very alkaline. 

Question 2: Why are Soils Important?

Answer: Soils are the basis of life for a large number of plants and animals. Other than the importance of biodiversity, soils are an essential substrate on which most agricultural plants grow. It means that this is where the food we eat comes from. In addition to that, soils play an essential role in the structuration of the ground, which is vital for any sort of construction. Soil degradation reduces agricultural yields and threatens farmer's livelihoods. Soil that has been leached of its nutrients cannot support crops or plants that prevent desertification. Healthy soil is necessary to ensure a steady supply of food.

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