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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Activity 6
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Overcoming Soil's Oddities
Activity 6



1.To demonstrate the structure of given soil samples.

2. To predict which soil type would support the best plant growth

cardboard tube the size that paper towels come on, kleenex tissue, broom handle or other dowel of similar size, samples of sand, *clay, and potting soil (loam)

*(If you live in the Coastal Plains of South Carolina, clay will be found as the second layer of soil in most yards after the sandy soil.)

  Procedure: 1. Stretch one tissue across one end of the tube. Secure it with rubber bands.  

2. Loosely pour three inches of soil sample into the tube.

 Image of cardboard tube with covered end and broomstick inserted as described in experiment

3. Hold the tube in one hand and jam the broomstick into the soil sample through the open end of the tube.

4. Try to tear the tissue.

5. Repeat the above for all three soil samples.

5. Record your observations in a table similar to this or make one of your own.

Soil TypeDoes Tissue Tear?
Potting Soil_

image of a flashing light bulbThink About This: 

1. Which soil sample(s) allowed you to break the tissue?

2. What does this tell you about the construction of the three soil examples?

3. What soil or combinations of soils do you think would grow crops more easily?

4. Why do farmers need to know the types of soil combinations in a field if they are going to plant crops?

5. What are some ways that farmers use technology to overcome soil variation in fields?


1. Collect soil samples from your yard or other accessible area.

a) What is the major soil type from this vicinity?

b) If you were going to grow crops here, what adjustments would you have to make to insure uniform treatment of the crops? Consider water holding capacity based upon air spaces between particles, ease of tillage, etc.

c) What types of plants grow in this area?

2. Perform the above activity on surface soil from the given areas?

a) Based on your observations, what is the main component in your soil samples?

image of a litte cartoon houseimage of a childimage of a moleculeimage of a dump truck

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Last Modified: 12/29/2016
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