June 29, 2011
- What is Soil?
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
What is Soil?
Soil is more than just a pile of dirt. Dirt is created when rock material is broken down by weather conditions. Soil is a collection of organic materials, mineral matter, water and air. It is capable of supporting plant growth because of the chemical, physical and biological activities that occur. But not all soil is the same-there are more than 70,000 different types in the United States. Soil comes in different colors and textures and has different organic and moisture contents. The type of soil depends on the parent material (broken down rocks), climate, topographical position, plants and animals and the length of time it has been exposed. It takes thousands of years for soil to form.
A square meter of soil can contain more organisms-from groundhogs, mice, worms and insects to the tiniest bacteria-than there are people on earth! These creatures create tunnels and shafts underground, allowing air and water to penetrate through the soil. Fungi and bacteria break down dead plants and animals into important nutrients that plants use to support growth.
Good soil supports strong plant growth. For people, this means good crops such as fruits, vegetables and grains. In addition to providing food for people, grains are also used as food for livestock, including chickens, pigs and cattle.
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When an area receives too much rain or has no plants, the soil that has taken thousands of years to form can wash away. Try this experiment to see what happens when soil erodes. You will need two rectangular tinfoil pans, plastic wrap, garden soil, grass seed, a large cookie sheet, two small blocks of wood and a spray bottle filled with water. Punch small holes all over one short side of each pan.
Cover the holes in one pan with plastic wrap; tape it to the outside so it stays in place. Fill this pan with loose garden soil and scatter grass seed across the top, pressing it lightly into the soil. Water the seed with the spray bottle, and place the pan in a sunny area. Water it twice a day, and put newspapers underneath to catch any excess water that drains out. The grass should begin growing in a few days. In a few weeks when the grass is several inches tall, remove the plastic wrap from the end of the pan.
After removing the plastic wrap from the first pan, loosely fill the second pan with soil. Place each pan on a cookie sheet, and put a wood block under one end of each pan so that it is slanted at an angle, with the drain holes at the lower end. Water the two pans and watch what happens. How much water and soil from each pan ran off onto the cookie sheets? Trees and ground cover are often planted in areas to stop soil from eroding. DEC's Trees for Tribs Program helps to reduce erosion along tributaries of the Hudson River.
Test how plants grow differently in various soils. You will need two flower pots and some bean seeds. Find an area of your yard where plants do not grow well. Dig up some soil and fill one flower pot. Label your pot with the location of where you dug up the soil. Now collect some soil from an area where plants thrive, like a flower bed or garden. Fill the second pot with this soil. Plant two or three bean seeds in each pot, and water them until the soil is moist. Beans need stakes to climb, so add a tall stake to each pot. Make sure to water frequently enough to keep the soil moist (each pot will be different). Monitor the pots to see which beans grow first. Measure the plants and keep a chart of their growth. Which soil is better for growing?
Read Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Family Freshwater Fishing Clinic
Saturday, August 6 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Hempstead Lake State Park
Cost: $6 parking fee; free with Empire Passport. Event Limit: 150 participants. Call I FISH NY 631-444-0283 to register.
(currently closed due to fiscal constraints, but the Stony Kill Foundation is sponsoring events)
Barn Day for Kids
Sunday, June 26 and Wednesday, July 6 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon
Youngsters entering grades 1 to 3.
Old-Fashioned Family Sing-a-Long with Chris Ruhe
Friday, July 8 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Hudson River Cruise to Benefit Stony Kill Foundation
Thursday, July 14 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $50/person. Call 845-831-1617 for more information.
Norrie Point Environmental Center
Fishing at Norrie
Saturday, July 9 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
How to Do It: Go Tent Camping
Saturday, July 2 at 10:00 AM
Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, June 29.
Citizen Science: Annual Butterfly Census
Saturday, July 2 at 2:00 PM
Nets and binoculars are welcome. Call 518-475-0291 to register by Wednesday, June 29.
Citizen Science: Frogwatch
Tuesday, July 5 at 8:00 PM
Waterproof footgear and flashlights are recommended.
Watchable Wildlife: The Huckleberry Bird
Saturday, July 9 at 9:00 AM
Watchable Wildlife: Leave it to Beavers
Saturday, July 9 at 2:00 PM
Watchable Wildlife: Crepuscular Critters
Tuesday, July 12 at 7:00 PM
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Discovery Center
Antlions: Ferocious Creatures in the Sand
Saturday, July 2 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Western New York
Advance registration is required. Call 716-683-5959.
Thursday, June 30 at 4:30 PM
Enjoy a one-hour program for kids featuring a different, fun, outdoor activity each week. For children in grades K-5. No registration required.
Tuesdays, July 5, 12, 19 and 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Assist with hour-long projects to help maintain and improve ecosystems and trails throughout the preserve.
Saturday, July 2 at 9:30 AM
Saturday, July 2 at 10:30 AM
For adults and kids ages 8 and older.
Red Wiggler Worm Story Hour
Wednesday, July 6 at 6:30 PM
For children ages 4-7 and their caregivers. Please note: This program will take place at the Julia Boyer Reinstein Library at 1030 Losson Road in Cheektowaga. For more information and to sign up, contact the library at 716-668-4991.
Thursday, July 7 at 10:00 AM
For children age 3 and under.
Friday, July 8 at 10:30 AM
For children ages 6-12.
Butterflies of Royalty
Tuesday, July 12 at 10:30 AM
Sly Fox and Clever Coyote
Wednesday, July 13 at 6:30 PM
Please note: This program will take place at the Julia Boyer Reinstein Library at 1030 Losson Road in Cheektowaga. For more information and to sign up, contact the library at 716-668-4991.