Soil Composition Lab

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Investigate Your Soil

In this lab, you are going to see how some of these factors can affect the soil in your own region. We will be taking soil samples from four different locations to see if there are any noticeable differences between them. Since we are localizing our study, it would be extremely difficult to get soil samples that would vary significantly in climate, time, or parent rock. Any soil that we take from our area 4 should have very nearly the same of these. Therefore, what we will be testing is how topography, biotic factors, and mankind affect the soil.

Part One

You will need to collect three soil samples for this activity. Each soil sample that you collect should fit in a quart-sized jar. These samples should be taken from the following characteristic locations:

Sample One - The Hill Sample Take from the side of a hill, the greater the degree of slope, the better.

Sample Two - The Yard Sample Take from a level surface, such as your backyard.

Sample Three - The River Sample Take from the side of a creek or river.

For all of these locations, you need to note the amount of slope and the type of vegetation that is found there.

These samples need to come from locations that are not near one another. A distance of a quarter mile or more between them would be best, as distances closer than this might lead to samples that do not vary that greatly. Of course, this requirement means that you will not be able to get all of the soil samples from property that you own. This means that you will need to show some prudence in picking locations from which to draw your samples. You might want to work with some of your classmates to insure that you can get all three types of locations. Whatever you do, do not trespass on private property to get the soil samples. You should also not get the samples from any national or state parks or forests, as it is illegal to remove things from these locations.

Part Two

Now that you have your soil samples, you are ready to determine the type of soil that you have from its texture. Use the Soil Texture By Feel Flowchart document to determine what type of soil you have. I've attached a video below (no sound is associated with the video) to help illustrate the different points of the flow chart.  Use this information to fill in the table on the Soil Composition activity sheet. Once you have filled in the table, answer the questions underneath it.

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