Chapter 3: Section 7 - Soil and Land Use

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In this section you will find materials that support the implementation of EarthComm, Section 7: Soil and Land Use.

Learning Outcomes

  • Plan and carry out an investigation that uses a classification system for identifying soil types.
  • Plan and carry out investigations to measure the properties of soil samples.
  • Obtain information about the importance of soil and its conservation as a natural resource.

Inquiring Further

  1. To learn more about soils in your community, visit the following web sites:

Soil Facts, USDA, NRCS
Refresher on the soil forming factors and clasification of soils. Explanation of the different soil orders including their pronunciation.

Soil Health and Sustainable Practices, USDA, NRCS
By monitoring soil health, a land manager can determine if soil use is sustainable in a particular area.

List of Soil Surveys by State, USDA, NRCS
Click on your state to be linked to your state's soil office.


To learn more about this topic, visit the following web sites:

Classifying Soils

Photo Gallery, USDA, NRCS
Includes written descriptions and photographs of different soil types as well as a soil distribution map of the United States.

Keys to Soil Taxonomy, USDA, NRCS
Online textbook that covers a wide range of topics, including which soils scientists classify and how they classify them.

What's in My Soil, USGS
Activity to determine the unique physical characteristics of soil.

Soil Texture Calculator, USDA
Input data from your soil to determine the texture from a tenary plot.

Soil Formation

Soil Composition Across the US, NASA
Brief summary of how soils form and are distributed.

Soil Health and Ecology Terms Glossary, USDA
Soil health ansd soil ecology terms descrbed in detail.   

Soil Biology Primer, USDA/Soil and Water Conservation Society
The organisms living in soil are vital for the development and health of a soil. This is a useful online prime on the food web, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and larger organisms that live in soil.

Soil Horizons

Examination and Description of Soils, USDA, NRCS
Excerpt from the text "Soil Survey Manual". This very detailed review defines the different soil horizons and transitional zones. Also explains soil horizon nomenclature.

Soil as a Natural Resource

Soil Quality Management, USDA, NRCS
Examines practices that enhance soil quality.

Soil Quality Management – Urban Land, USDA
Three fact sheets which cover soil erosion and sedimentation on construction sites, urban soil compaction, and heavy metal soil compaction.

Soil Moisture Data from Space NASA
Learn how data from the first NASA satellite mission dedicated to measuring the water content of soils is now being used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to monitor global croplands and make commodity forecasts.

Soils: Foundation for LifeSoil Science Society of America
A free webinar "Soils: Foundation for Life" recorded and posted with many valuable resources - including an accompanying powerpoint.

Soils Erosion Cultivate vs Non-Cultivated Land UseUSDA
Data set from 2000 with useful information about erosion of land by type in each state.

Can Plant Grow on Mars?

Mars Soil and Plants?, NASA
Learn how NASA is trying to replicate martian soil to determine its suitability for plant growth.