Soil & WaterIt’s that time of year again!  No, not the countdown to Christmas.  It’s time for Deb Palmer’s annual student soil presentation.  Part of the mission of the Marshall County Soil and Water office is education and she has a presentation for area 4th graders to teach them about soil.

Everyone in the Soil and Water office knows the time is getting close because Deb’s office is filled with M & M candies.  She creates a mixture of peanut, plain and mini M &Ms to represent sand, silt and clay and mixes them in a small baggie to create a “loam.”   She uses these candy packets as rewards to toss out to anyone who answers her questions.  Palmer said, “I’m not proud that I have to resort to bribery but it works!”

During her education program Palmer explains to the students that soil is a non-renewable natural resource and we need it to grow all the food to feed the world’s growing population.  A great visual she shares is using an apple to represent the earth.  Approximately three fourths of the earth’s surface is covered with water so we can’t farm it.  So she cut the apple into fourths and removes three of them.  Of that fourth that is left representing land, half is not suitable for growing food due to climate restrictions so she cuts the fourth in half and removes one section.  Of the one eighth left, three fourths is not usable for farming due to roads, buildings, parking lots and businesses.  She then cuts the 1/8 into four slivers and removes three of them.  So we are left with one thirty second of the earth available for farming. Palmer then cuts away the skin of the apple of that small sliver represents the top soil where the food is grown.

Deb Palmer said, “Boy do the kids get it at the point.”  She continued, “My hope is that I connect with these kids, and perhaps a few adults through this column, so everyone understands how important it is to preserve our soil.”


Submitted by Debbie Palmer from the Marshall County Soil and Water Conservation District.