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.

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
Soil provides which of the following?
A home for plants and animals
Nutrients for plants
An environment for waste decomposition (rotting)
All of the above
We rely on soil for many things
What is the decaying material found in soil called?
Humus is the decayed remains of organisms (plants, animals, insects, etc.) that have died
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?
The soil would stick together, but only if you squeezed it with some force
The soil would crumble easily
The soil would stick together easily
None of the above
Clay soil is sticky when wet, and forms hard lumps. In hot weather it often cracks
Which type of soil would crumble easily if you rubbed it between your fingers?
Sandy soil
Acidic soil
Clay soil
Sandy soil does not hold moisture very well
How would you test the permeability of soil?
By rolling some soil between your fingers
By waiting for rain and then observing the soil
By measuring how much water you pour into pots of different soils and comparing how much drains away
By watering the soil and letting it drain onto litmus paper
Observing after rain might give you a rough idea but measuring how much water drains would be a proper scientific test
The colour of a soil shows what materials it contains. Having a large amount of iron makes soil which colour?
Black or dark brown
Pale greyish-white
Soils containing a lot of iron become a rusty colour
Which soil is best for growing a wide variety of crops?
Heavy clay soil
Sandy soil
Acidic soil
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
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
Heathers, flowering plants which commonly grow on moors, prefer which type of soil?
Chalky soil
Acid soil
Waterlogged soil
Alkaline soil
Climate has an important effect on soil - high rainfall will usually produce an acidic soil
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - What is soil made from?

Author:  Sheri Smith

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