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New York Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

Lesson Plans (6)

Agricultural Land Use

Students explore the impact of fertilizer on algae growth, soil erosion, and agricultural soil and water conservation practices. Grades 9-12

Earth's Land and Soil Resources

Students discover that topsoil is a nonrenewable resource and use an apple to represent how Earth’s land resources are used. Through critical thinking, students study agricultural land use and consider the sustainability of current land use practices including the use of land to feed and graze livestock animals. Grades 9-12

Geography and Climate for Agricultural Landscapes (Grades 9-12)

Students will discover how geography and climate influences the crops that are grown and the livestock that is raised in each state. Grades 9-12

Plant-Soil Interactions (Grades 9-12)

Students will explain the roles of diffusion and active transport in moving nutrients from the soil to the plant, describe the formation of soil and soil horizons; and describe the events in the Great Dust Bowl, how they relate to soil horizons, and how those events affected agricultural practices. Grades 9-12

Properties of Soils (Grades 9-12)

Students examine different types of soil that have been mixed with water and allowed to settle. Next, they work with a soil model to investigate its components (sand, silt, and clay) and learn how the properties of these components affect the passage or retention of water through the soil and the amount of air in the soil. Grades 9-12

Soil and Sustainability (Grades 9-12)

Students observe soil ecosystems to investigate how human impact affects the biodiversity of soils using the Simpson's Index of Diversity. Then, students conduct an investigation using field corn to determine how the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers impact soil microorganisms and biodiversity. Grades 9-12

Companion Resources (13)


#SoilScience Reader
This digital reader introduces soil formation and soil horizons with a fun edible soil activity. Other topics include the nitrogen cycle, plant nutrition, and fertilizer basics featuring the 4R Nutrient Stewardship. This resource is an excellent supplement to soil lessons and can be requested for free from the Nutrients for Life Foundation. There is a student reader as well as a teacher guide.


Soil Samples (Soil Texture)
This is a great kit for teaching students about soil textures. The kit includes two cups of sand, two cups of silt, and two cups clay. All of the soil samples are from the state of Utah and are representative of the Intermountain Region, although the mineral content may be different, the particle sizes are true to soil texture type and can be used by other states for demonstration purposes. Order this kit online from


America's Heartland: A Sea of Grass
This half-hour video explores how the American tall-grass prairies have changed over the last 150 years. These grasslands created the rich soils that grow our crops today, and a number of farmers who work these soils are featured in the video.
Black Blizzard
On May 9th, 1934 a giant storm rose up out of the great plains. A menacing wall of soil and dust headed east across the land, thick enough to block out the sun. This 4-minute video gives a good account of this disaster through video footage and photographs.
Dust Bowl: CBS 1955 Documentary
This newsreel-style documentary chronicles the Dust Bowl with interviews from people (primary sources) who lived through the "dirty thirties." The images linger well after the film ends. An excellent resource to use when studying the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, or the Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. The renowned Walter Cronkite narrates the 23-minute film available on DVD or YouTube. Order this DVD online from
Hugh Hammond Bennett: The Story of America's Private Lands Conservation video
This comprehensive 21-minute video highlights the endeavors of one man who changed farming practices through science and policy. Hugh Hammond Bennet was a pioneer in soil conservation teaching farmers about soil erosion and other farming practices needing reform at this time in history.
Living Soil Film
Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water, sequester carbon, are our foundation for biodiversity, and are vibrantly alive with 10,000 pounds of biological life in every acre. This 60-minute documentary features innovative farmers and soil health experts from throughout the U.S.
Soil Science Videos
To celebrate the International Year of Soils in 2015, the Soil Science Society of America created monthly videos teaching about various soil topics. These videos are a great supplement to soil science lessons.
Soil, Not Dirt
Follow Rebecca Lybrand on a digital journey to connect soils, plants, and climate. Rebecca, a soil scientist explains some of her daily job tasks and teaches about soils in different climates and ecosystems.


Nitrogen & Agriculture
This interactive site explores the importance of nitrogen for plant, animal, and soil health. Students are able to build amino acid and fertilizer molecules and calculate molecular weight in relation to nitrogen content.
Science in Your Watershed
This website can help teachers find scientific information on watersheds in their area. Use a mapping interface to locate your local watershed as well as find various other resources.
Soil Center
The Soil Center provides a collection of soil science lessons and an accompanying six-segment video program covering topics like soil texturing, living and nonliving components of soil, erosion, and more. These resources were designed specifically for Utah fourth-grade students but can easily be adapted for other grade levels.
Soil Health Education Resources
The Soil Health Institute Communications and Education Action Team compiled this catalog of soil health educational resources to help educators teach students and adults about the critical functions that soil plays in sustaining life on earth.