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photograph of a Florida soil profile

Dig Up Some Soils Information

Are you curious about soils? Here are some educational resources we have gathered that may come in handy during the summer or in preparation for the 2020/2021 school year (in the classroom or virtually).

The Manatee County UF/IFAS Agriculture and Extension Service Soils Unit works in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) and the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District (MRSWCD) to provide locally led conservation. Learn more about the Soils Unit here https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/manatee/agriculture/soils-unit/

Check out the USDA NRCS  ‘Soils Education’ page for resources for K-6, 7-12, and college levels  at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/edu/   Did you know that each state has a state soil? See what you can discover by navigating through the resources at the provided link. Lesson plans are available for teachers and parents.

Download the colors of soils posters for the state of your choice in PDF or PowerPoint format at this link https://new.cloudvault.usda.gov/index.php/s/XiiqkG2DqKHbH6b

Another good resource for teachers and parents is here https://www.soils4teachers.org/lessons-and-activities  The Soil Science Society of America has assembled resources for students at this site https://www.soils4kids.org/home

Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Florida are assisted by the Association of Florida Conservation Districts www.afcd.us and nationally we have the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) https://www.nacdnet.org/  The NACD recently highlighted some available education materials. A link with information for youth on up to adults is  https://soilhealthinstitute.org/resources/soil-health-educational-resources/

The Conservation Education Hub https://www.nacdnet.org/conservation-education-hub/curriculum-3/ was recently rolled out by NRCS with a variety of resources, information is provided on soils, pollinators, and watersheds. To view resources from NRCS, the Kiss the Ground curriculum, and Soil Health Institute-Living Soil visit https://www.nacdnet.org/general-resources/stewardship-and-education-materials/educational-resources/soil-health/

The MRSWCD hosts two local annual events that have a tie in to soils. One is the annual Manasota Regional Envirothon where teams of high school students compete by taking tests in several subjects, one being Soils. Our Soils Unit coordinates the regional contest and writes and proctors the soils test. Kudos to the State Envirothon for recently pulling off the first virtual Envirothon in Florida. Our regional qualified teams took part, and received special recognition in Soils/Land Use (Ms. Breth’s The Green Gang from Palmetto High School) and Oral Presentation (Ms. Henderson’s Demetrios from Suncoast Polytechnical High School). Learn more about the Florida Envirothon here https://www.flenvirothon.com/

Earlier this year, the MRSWCD hosted the 59th annual Manatee County Land Judging competition for FFA and 4-H students. In land judging, students answer questions concerning soil properties at four fields in such categories as slope, depth, texture, permeability, erosion, and nutrients. One of the fields represents a potential homesite location, and students are questioned on how well the land could serve as a building site. Congratulations to the teams who qualified for state at our contest: Lakewood Ranch HS FFA, Buffalo Creek MS FFA, and 4-H. Due to the nature of the contest and the short turn around time a virtual contest was not possible at the state level. To learn more about training for a land judging contest visit http://landjudging.org/training/

Have a good summer, see what you can dig up about soils.