Attention Getting Question:
Why do scientists study the soil before building structures? Let’s take a closer look at soils to find out.
Soil is a mixture of loose materials that cover most of the earth’s surface. It contains tiny pieces of rock, air, water, and humus. Humus is the remains of decayed plants and animals. The humus in soil helps plants grow and holds moisture.
Soils are an important nonrenewable natural resource! Most of the food you eat depends on rich soils to produce crops. Forests and other plant life on Earth require soils to hold them in place. The roots of the plants can receive the needed nutrients and water in order to grow. Soils also act as a construction material when used as a natural foundation under man-made structures such as highways and buildings.
Scientists study soil by determining the properties of different kinds of soils. A property is a characteristic of a substance. The color of soils is easily determined, but it can give a lot of information. The color can determine what materials make upthe soil, the amount of humus in the soil, the age of the soil, and if the soil drains easily. Soils can range in color. Dark soil usually indicates that the soil has a high amount of organic humus. This soil would be ideal for your garden. Red or yellow soil usually means that the soil is older and more weathered. Weathering is the breaking down of rock. It can occur when water moves over rock.
Texture is another property of soil that determines what the soil contains, the ability to drain water, the ability to hold water, and the richness of the soil. Scientists determine the amount of sand, silt, and clay in the soil when they determine the texture. Sand is coarse, doesn’t hold water, and is not good for plant growth. Siltis made of smaller particles than sand, holds water, and drains poorly. Clay is madeup of small particles and it is able to hold water, but little air passes through it. The ideal soil is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay called loam. Gardeners prefer loamy soil.
Tilth is a physical property that determines the physical condition of the soil. Farmers use tilth to find out if the soil can take in water, is crumbly, and if it’s easy to work with. If the soil has poor tilth, the soil can be tilled or plowed in order to break up the soil and aerate it. Fertilizing can also improve the tilth of soil.
Another important physical property of soil is its ability to hold water. Soils with larger particles, like sand, have spaces between the particles that allow water to pass through. Silt’s smaller particles hold water because the space between the particles is closer. Clay absorbs water and that helps the particles in clay to stick together.
Scientists take soil samples and perform tests on soil before determining if the soil will be suitable for building houses, highways, or other structures. The results of the tests will tell the builder if anything needs to be done in order to stabilize the structure. If a houseis built on poor soil without reinforcing the foundation, the house may settle, get cracks, and result in unnecessary structure maintenance.
Soils are a mixture of loose materials that cover most of the earth’s surface. They contain tiny pieces of rock, air, water, and humus. Scientists study the physical properties or characteristics of it. Some physical properties of soils are the color of the soil, the texture of the soil, the tilth of the soil, and the soil’s ability to hold water. The physical properties of soils can help determine the soils’ ability to support plant life and if the soils are suitable for building structures.