Wednesday, January 12, 2011

{Soils? Boring? No Way!}

So I have to say I was a little skeptical about my following class schedule:

Landscape Bidding and Estimating
Disease and Pest Control
Soil Science
Soil Science Lab

Landscape Design Graphics

And that soil lab is three hours long! One would think and wonder, "What do you do with dirt for three hours a week?" Well my friends you can do some pretty cool stuff.
{by Soil Science}

Today we found out the soil texture{soil texture is the proportions of sand, silt, and clay in a soil} by using the hydrometer method showed above in the picture. First we put a sample soil in a milk shake mixing cup, added distilled water, and then set it to mix in a real milk shake mixer. No kidding! It made us all crave chocolate milk.

After your mixture has been mixed into a milk shake you pour it into a cylinder as shown above and add more water. Then you shake, shake, shake that cylinder to suspend the soil in the water. Then you set it on the counter and wait an allotted amount of time. At the given time you take a reading on a hydrometer that floats in the mixture. That reading tells you how much sand is in the soil because it has all sunk to the bottom. The silt and clay will still be suspended in the water and you have to wait longer for all the silt to sink to the bottom and take another reading. And with that you can determine how much sand, silt and clay are in the given soil.

So exciting! We also determined soil texture by feeling mud made out of the example soils. We really dirtied up our hands with this one. I found it really therapeutic to knead the mud between my fingers and determine whether it was gritty, smooth, or sticky. Those three hours in the lab just flew by and I am no longer wearied by the thought of my weekly soil lab.

Here are some soil tidbits:

soil with lots of clay means high water holding capacity
soil with lots of sand means high aeration
there is good drainage in sandy soils
if you have too much clay in your soil. do not add sand. add organic material!

{Durante mi clase de laboratorio hoy, hicimos experimentos para calcular los proporciones de arena, cieno, y arcilla en un especimen de la tierra. Nos ensuciamos las manos y fue muy divertido. Aprendi las cualidades importantes para cultivar plantas en la tierra. Aunque el laboratorio dura tres horas no me aburro. Ejale!}

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