"All About That Soil"
Sreenidhi Elayaperumal and Michaela Fisher
Texture of soil
When we filtered our soil to find out what it contained, we found out that it was a sandy loam. This is because it seemed to contain mostly sand (70%), but still had silt (%20) and clay (%10). We could identify the sand because it had large clumps that could not be broken apart, since it was in the process of becoming a sedimentary rock. The fine grains were clay particles, and the remaining particles were silt. This soil was from Cabarrus county, but we would assume that sandy soils, such as ours, would be found near the coast, since there is a lot of sand there. Overall, sandy loams are probably not rare, but not common either, since they don't have as big a space on the chart has clay or silt loam.
Fertility of Soil
During the pH test, we found out this soil is alkaline soil, and several different plants can grow in this soil. When feeling the soil, we found out that our soil is mostly sandy, but is a sandy loam. Loam is the ideal soil for plants, and ours is similar to loam. The soil probably has a good amount of organic matter in it, since we have found dried up roots and decaying plant leaves in it, which could be good towards this soil aspect. Organic matter is an important factor in how fertile the soil is, since it can improve drainage, texture, and the amount of nutrients. The place where this soil had been taken from has supported several plants (don't worry, it wasn't store bought), which is evidence that the soil is fertile enough to grow produce.
The produce that can grow in alkaline soil includes beets, cabbage, cauliflower, parsnip, garlic, peas, squash, zucchini, and kale.
Our soil seems to consist of the things soil typically would be made out of: weathered rock debris and organic matter (the solid part). We found out the type of particles in this soil was clay and silt. The rest is made of air and water. In the soil, we found many plant roots, and while removing the soil, a worm was found (but not put in the soil sample), and they are good for decomposing organic matter. This soil has a moderate resistant to erosion, since it wasn't loose enough to not be held together by plant roots.
The soil seems to have the texture that is clay soil. When doing a test to filter out each type of soil, we found out that it has 40% sand, 40% clay, and 20% silt. The soil was sticky when wet, a property of clay, and a smooth texture probably from the size of the small grains in the soil. This clay was found in Cabarrus county, and clay is probably common around here, since lots of soil that we have seen in this area seem to be a clay soil. Also, clay is probably the most common type of soil there is, since it has the biggest space on the clay chart.
Fertility of Soil
During the pH test, we found that this soil is neutral soil. This soil is good at supporting produce, since many plants grow in neutral soil. When we felt, we found out it was a clay soil, with mostly clay and sand. This texture will be okay to grow plants in, since it is loose enough to let plant roots grow, but compact enough to let the water and nutrients to stay in the soil. It is not completely clay soil, which is too lumpy for produce, but it is not completely sandy soil, which would not be able to hold in water and nutrients, which is necessary for a plant to survive. This soil had organic matter, such as leaves and dried roots, as part of the organic matter in the soil. This will eventually decompose, which helps the soil, since it makes the texture more compatible and nutritious.
The produce that works in neutral soil include turnips, eggplant, peanuts, bell peppers, pumpkins, radishes, shallots, lettuce, oregano, carrots, and alpine strawberries.
Composition of Soil
Soil is 50% solid and 50% space, and most of the solid part (90%) are tiny, rocky particles that come from the bedrock, the layer of rock under the surface of the earth. As we talked about before, the particles in our soil consist of sandy and clay particles, similar to loam (without the silt). This soil has slightly loose soil, so it does not have a strong resistance to erosion. Both soil samples probably contain bacteria and fungi, which help break down organic matter in the soil to make it have more nutritious soil rather than having just parent material. This soil probably had more humus, since it was darker than the last sample.
Preserving Our Soil
Soil erosion is when the soil is washed or blown away, which removes important factors needed to grow plants, such as nutrients, organic matter, and organisms.
How to Preserve and Maintain Soil:
There are several things you can do to stop soil erosion. All of the tips below will help prevent water flowing all at once, which erodes soil. Planting a rain garden (a not-so-deep hole where water can collect) helps rainwater not rush on to soil, since it gathers into the depression. Putting a barrel under your roof also helps save water as well as preventing it from eroding soil.
If you are in the agriculture field, there are several things to maintain your soil, and these farming practices are very helpful. You can do no-till farming, which is when you don't remove them all the way after the crops are picked, and this allows the roots of the plants to remain, holding the soil in place. Terrace farming (another soil conserving way to farm) is when you use the shape the land to make water flow slowly when watering crops. Another way to farm is to use contour farming, which is farming across a sloping field rather than up and down. This keeps topsoil in place, prevents water from rushing and eroding soil, as well as improving irrigation.
Other Things You Can Do:
These next few ideas can help preserve soil as well, but a few are a bit more long term. Helping restore wetlands can help, since wetland can absorb water that could otherwise erode the soil. Planting plants such as trees or shrubs in some areas can help anchor the soil in place.
How to Monitor and Evaluate Soil
There are many different parts to look at when evaluating your soil. An easy thing to do is to do is to check for organic matter, and see if there is any decaying plants in the soil. You can add organic matter (compost), to make your soil more nutritious. You can also check the pH level of your soil to see if it is acidic, alkaline, or neutral, since this can affect you plant growth (look above to see how to adjust the pH). Finally, you can check the texture of your soil, by filtering the soil out to see how much silt, clay, and sand your soil contains. Compost also helps improve the texture of your soil, especially if it contains lots of clay.