What can I tell by looking at – and touching – my soil?

Get your hands dirty!

Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!

If you are outside and want to know something about the soil you are working with, and don’t have any fancy equipment, then this is for you. With a little bit of experience you can get an idea of how much organic matter you have in your soil, how much clay you have, and how acidic or basic your soil is. The equipment you need is: 1) your eyes; 2) your hands; 3) a little water; and 4) a piece of pH litmus paper (never leave home without it).

Soil Darker soil near the top (grass) has more organic matter in it, which makes the soil dark brown. Credit: NRCS

Organic matter –Organic matter is a source of plant nutrients, the source of energy for soil organisms, and a sponge for holding water in the soil. To know something about soil organic matter, just look at the color of the soil…

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Sephrah

I am a Soil Science PhD student at Lincoln University, New Zealand.

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