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Plants and humans need three of the same things to live: air, water, and nutrients. The soil on Earth plays an important role in getting water and nutrients to the roots of plants. The soil also allows air movement around the roots. Remember, the roots take in water and nutrients from the soil and move them into the plant. Soil has other important roles, too. Soil keeps the roots of plants secure and supports plants so they can grow well. Some types of food that we eat everyday are even grown completely under the soil! Potatoes, radishes, and carrots grow and develop in the soil itself.

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Slip Slidin' Away

Learn about the importance of good soil in agriculture production!

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Soil on the Earth

The soil on Earth is made up of four main things. Rock particles broken down by wind and water make up the largest part of soil on Earth. Soil also contains water and air. Lastly, soil is made up of organic materials. Humus is among the richest and darkest of soils and develops from decaying plant and animal life. Humus is generally very dark and is a good fertilizer because of the nutrients contained in the decaying plants and animals. Humus can hold and release water and nutrients that plants need. It also improves the soil so that air can move in the soil. It is crumbly instead of sandy (like a beach) or clumpy (like clay).

Soil can be described in terms of its texture. Texture refers to how much sand, silt, and clay is in the soil. Sand is the largest of these soil particles. Sand is very rough and does not hold nutrients that plants need to grow very well.

Agronaut Log LogoEntry 18: Think about a beach or a desert, filled with sand. What types of plants do you see at the beach or at the desert? Research these plants and the ways that they adapt so that they can live and grow in sandy places. Record your findings in your Agronaut Log.

Silt is a medium-sized soil particle that feels smooth to the touch. Silt can hold a lot of water, and water moves easily through it. Large amounts of silt can be found where rivers empty into lakes because silt is washed downstream by rivers. Clay is the smallest or finest particle in soil. Clay is smooth and can hold many nutrients, but water and air do not move through clay very well.

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Pick a Path

Learn about the different types of soil as you and your classmates become soil particles!

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