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Soil Does More Than Get You Dirty - Conservation Glossary 

Conservation Glossary

Acre — A unit of measurement of land. It is equal to the area of land inside a square that is about 208 feet on each side (43,560 square feet).

Algae — Microscopic green plants that live in water and on land. They serve as food for other organisms.

Alum — A potassium or ammonium aluminum sulfate used especially as an astringent and styptic.

Bacteria — Microscopic organisms that live on water and on land. They help break down organic materials into simpler nutrients in a process called decay. Bacteria release nutrients to the soil.

Bedrock — A more or less solid layer of rock found on the surface of the land or below the soil.

Biochemical — Of or relating to biochemistry; characterized by, produced by, or involving chemical reactions in living organisms.

Carbon Dioxide — A colorless, odorless, nonpoisonous gas that forms carbonic acid when dissolved in water, produced during combustion and microbial decomposition.

Composting — Mixing decaying organic matter (food scraps, grass clippings, leaves) to form a rich soil conditioner.

Conservation — Saving by wise use; planned management of a material resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

Decomposing — Separating into constituent parts of elements or into simpler compounds, undergoing chemical breakdown.

Erosion — The wearing away of land surface by wind or water. Erosion occurs naturally from weather or runoff but is often intensified by peoples practices.

Flood plain — Nearly level land situated on either or both sides of a channel that is subject to overflow flooding. Lowland and relatively flat alluvial areas adjoining inland waters.

Fungi — Small simple plants that lack chlorophyll. The individual cells have a nucleus surrounded by a membrane, and they may be linked together in long filaments called hyphae, which may grow together to form a visible body. Simple fungi are useful in stabilizing solid waste and sewage.

Habitat — An area of land in which plants and animals live, grow, and reproduce.

Humus — Highly decomposed plant and animal material that is a part of soil.

Hydrologist Cycle — The cycle of water movement from the atmosphere to the earth and back again through these steps; evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, percolation, runoff, and storage.

Immunity — A condition of being able to resist a particular disease, through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products.

Inert - Lacking the power to move; lacking a usual or anticipated chemical or biological action; very slow to move or act.

Inorganic — All chemical compounds in nature, except the compounds of carbon, but including the carbonates.

Interaction — When two or more things do something to one another, they interact.

Land — One of the major factors of production that is supplied by nature and includes all natures resources in their original state such as mineral deposits, wildlife, timber, fish, water and the fertility of the soil.

Lime — From the strictly chemical standpoint, refers to only one compound, calcium oxide (CaO): however, the term is commonly used in agriculture to include a great variety of materials that are usually composed of the oxide, hydroxide, or carbonate of calcium or of calcium and magnesium; used to furnish calcium and magnesium as essential elements for the growth of plants and to neutralize soil acidity. The most commonly used forms of agricultural lime are ground limestone (carbonates), hydrated lime (hydroxides), burnt lime (oxides), marl, and oyster shells.

Limestone — A sedimentary rock composed of calcium carbonate, CaCO3. There are many impure varieties.

Microbial — Pertaining to a group of microorganisms (germs).

Microorganisms — Those minute organisms invisible or only barely visible to the unaided eye.

Millipedes — A small crawling animal; any numerous myriopads (class Diplopoda) having usually a cylindrical segmented body, two pairs of legs on most apparent segments and no poison fangs.

Mineralization — The conversion of an element from an organic form to an inorganic state as a result of microbial decomposition.

Minimum Tillage — Raising crops with small amounts of soil disturbance. Most of the residue from the previous crop is left on the surface.

Mineral — A natural inorganic substance that possesses a definite chemical composition and definite physical and chemical properties.

Mineral Nutrients — Elements, or compounds, essential as raw materials for organism growth and development, such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. The dissolved solids and gases of the water of an area.

Mold — A superficial often wooly growth produced on damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms.

Nutrient — A substance that supplies nourishment for an organism to live. It can be food or chemicals depending upon the organism.

Organic Matter — Plant and animal material in various stages of decomposition that may be part of the soil.

Parent Material — The earthy materials — bone mineral and organic — from which soil is formed.

Percolation — The downward movement of water in soil.

Permeability — The quality of soil that allows air or water to move through it.

Pore Spaces — The area of the soil through which water and air move. The space between soil particles.

Residue — Material that remains after gases, liquids, or solids have been removed.

Sandstone — A sedimentary rock consisting usually of quartz sand united by some cement (as silica or calcium carbonate).

Serrated — A jagged edge.

Soil — A naturally occurring mixture of minerals, organic matter, water, and air which has a definite structure and composition and forms on the surface of the land. A kind of soil is the collection of soils that are alike in specified combinations of characteristics. Kinds of soils are given names in the system of soil classification. The terms "the soil" and "soil" are collective terms used for all soils, equivalent to the word "vegetation" for all plants.

Soil Horizon — A layer of soil that is nearly parallel to the land surface and is different from layers above and below.

Soil Mantle — The soil that covers the earth's surface, such as a carpet would cover a floor. This is the top layer that covers the surface.

Soil Survey — A general term for the examination of soils in the field and in laboratories; their description and classification; the mapping of kinds of soil the interpretation of soils according to their adaptability for various crops, grasses, and trees; their behavior under use or treatment for plant production or for other purposes; and their productivity under different management systems.

Soluble — Susceptible of being dissolved in or as if in a fluid. Capable of being loosened or dissolved.

System — A group of related objects that form a whole.

Terrace — A soil conservation practice in which ridges or steps are built on slopes to slow down runoff and increase soil moisture.

Texture — The relative proportions of the various soil separates in a soil as described by the class of soil texture.

Waterway — A grassed linear strip used to convey water from crop fields so that a runoff does not cause erosion.

Weathering — The disintegration and decomposition of rocks and other earth materials through exposure to the atmosphere; one of the major factors in soil formation.

Windbreaks — A living barrier of trees or combination of trees and shrubs located adjacent to a farmstead, field, feedlot, or other area to protect soil resources; reduce wind erosion; conserve energy or moisture; control snow deposition; provide shelter for livestock or wildlife; or increase the natural beauty of an area; also called field windbreak, feedlot windbreak, or farmstead windbreak, depending upon the intended use.