On Wednesday, May 1, FortWhyte Alive hosted Dig it!: Skills in Soil Science Day, which connected high school students to current soil science and sustainable agriculture practices in Manitoba through hands-on experiences.
Soil scientists from Manitoba Agriculture and University of Manitoba, along with staff from Manitoba Conservation Districts, ran hands-on learning stations visited by Grades 9-12 students and their teachers from both rural and urban schools.
Student comments following the day indicate that they took away some big concepts:
“I didn’t know that soil has an impact on climate change.”
“Soil is such a valuable part of our ecosystem and one of our most important resources.”
The six stations visited connected with science, geography and agriculture themes, and sparked interest in careers in environmental protection, agriculture and soil science.
- Our Provincial Soil – Students learned about the geology of Manitoba, how to identify different soil types from across the province, and got to take home their very own Newdale soil profile.
- The Rain and Snow Show – Students played roles including farm agronomist, farmer, and accountant to find out how different land management types such as conventional tillage, zero tillage and fallowing affect a farm’s bottom line, and how soil erosion increases the release of nutrients into waterways.
- Plants Need to Eat, Too! – Students learned about nutrients and fertilizer, take soil samples, and understand much nutrient it takes to grow crops like wheat, canola and potatoes.
- Surveying – Changes in elevation affect soil and water quality. Students learned how to use an optical level survey station and learn about new technologies.
- Soil Mapping – Students learned about GIS mapping in agricultural areas, and how important and difficult it can be to balance land use decisions based on environmental, economic and social demands on the land.
- Soil Chemistry – Students got to solve the mystery of soil chemistry by testing local soil samples for nutrient levels and pH.
A big thank you to all presenters, especially Mitchell Timmerman, of Manitoba Agriculture, who coordinated the presenters and equipment for the event, and Kent Lewarne, of Nutrients for Life.