Questions for ‘Healthy soils are life-giving black gold’

a photo fo onions sprouting in dark garden soil

Soils rich in microorganisms and nutrients from decaying plant and animal matter help vegetables like these onions thrive.

YuriyS/iStock/Getty Images

To accompany feature “Healthy soils are life-giving black gold


Before Reading:

1.  Are soil and dirt the same thing? What are some qualities that a healthy soil might have?

2.  Why are healthy soils important for life on Earth?

During Reading:

1.  What does rich, healthy soil look and feel like?

2.  List some of the things that might be found in a shovelful of healthy soil.

3.  Why are animals and microorganisms important to the health of soils?

4.  Name the four main ingredients of soil.

5.  What kinds of things can make good soil turn into bad soil? What caused the
“Dust Bowl” across North America’s Great Plains in the 1930s?

6.  What actions can farmers and gardeners take to help build soil health?

7.  Why does soil scientist Ea Murphy call soil “the skin of the Earth”?

8.  How does soil play a part in the cycling of carbon through the environment?

9.  What are some ways that humans disrupt the balance of the carbon cycle, releasing CO2 from the soil and adding it to the greenhouse gases in the air?

10.  List some of the ways that soil and plant materials hold on to carbon, keeping it safe from microbes that break down organic matter and release CO2.

After Reading:

1.  Why is it so important for government, farmers and others to invest money and resources to preserve the health of Earth’s soil?

2.  If the soils on our farmlands are not protected, how might that impact your life?

3.  Why do you think farmers think of good soil as “black gold?” In what ways is soil NOT like gold to farmers?