Soil as a Resource
Country: United States
Date: July 2006
Is soil a renewable or non-renewable resource? Many
good references classfy soil as a renewable resource, but our 5th
grade textbook says soil is non-renewable. Help!
My recommendation is, as an educator, create a problem for the students to
solve. Have them research the topic in textbooks and/or the library, and
present thier scientific opinion on the matter in the form of a debate or
Something 'renewable' needs to be renew-able within a relevant time period.
You might present to the students how soil is formed from the breakdown of
rock as well as the introduction of organic matter. Other soil components
of air (within pores) and water are certainly required for soil's normal
purpose. Given the time period required, especially for replacement of lost
topsoil (ex. the dust-bowl days), I believe we should indeed be concerned
about the non-renewable (within a relevant time period) quality of soils.
In my view, having the students hear what constitutes renewable or not, and
then having them decide whether, given what they know about soil, it *is* or
*is not* renewable will be more effective than memorizing someone else's
(possibly differing) opinions on the topic. The investigative scientific
inquiry trumps rote memorization any day. Also instructive for the students
will be the presentation of different scientific opinions on the same
topic. Ultimately, reasoning through this question is, I think, the best
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Update: June 2012