Loam is good for growing a wide variety of crops.


In this KS2 Science quiz we take a look at soil - the earth beneath our feet. This is a mixture of clay, sand, water, air, decaying material and humus (which is rich in nutrients).

Did you know that it can take several hundred years for a layer of soil just one inch thick to form? That is one of the many reasons why topsoil should be preserved and not be allowed to 'run off' or be washed away. But what exactly is soil, or earth, made from? Well, it's a mixture of either sand or clay with water and decayed, or decaying, material called humus. Humus is formed from dead organisms and their nutrients become part of the soil. They can then be taken up by plants and enter the food chain once more.

Do you know which type of earth allows water to drain away best, or whether sandy soil, clay soil or a mixture of both is best for growing crops? Test your knowledge of this precious resource by trying this quiz on soil.

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  1. Which of the following words describes how well soil allows water to drain away?
    The more permeable soil is, the easier it is for water to drain away - less-permeable soil holds water better
  2. Soil is a mixture of several materials. Which of the following is not part of the mixture?
    Soil also contains weathered bedrock, clay and sand
  3. Which soil is best for growing a wide variety of crops?
    Loam is very fertile because it has plenty of humus to provide nutrients to the plants; it is also permeable enough to contain air, but not so permeable that it allows water to drain away too quickly
  4. How would you test the permeability of soil?
    Observing after rain might give you a rough idea but measuring how much water drains would be a proper scientific test
  5. What is the decaying material found in soil called?
    Humus is the decayed remains of organisms (plants, animals, insects, etc.) that have died
  6. Soil provides which of the following?
    We rely on soil for many things
  7. The colour of a soil shows what materials it contains. Having a large amount of iron makes soil which colour?
    Soils containing a lot of iron become a rusty colour
  8. Which type of soil would crumble easily if you rubbed it between your fingers?
    Sandy soil does not hold moisture very well
  9. Heathers, flowering plants which commonly grow on moors, prefer which type of soil?
    Climate has an important effect on soil - high rainfall will usually produce an acidic soil
  10. You can test soil type by rolling a small amount of soil between your fingers. How would you know if you had a clay soil?
    Clay soil is sticky when wet, and forms hard lumps. In hot weather it often cracks

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