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Earths Systems

Unit 3

Section One: Soil

O Horizon
This layer is referred to as surface litter.
This layer is only found in areas with a
high concentration of leaf litter or
anaerobic conditions (wetlands)

A horizon
(Topsoil) this layer appears darker due to
the high amounts of organic material.

E Horizon
This layer appears in areas with high
levels of precipitation. It appears lighter in
color due to high amounts of leaching.

B Horizon
(Zone of illuviation) Minerals tend to
accumulate here due to the process of

C Horizon
Consist of parent material. Low intensity
processes such as the movement of
soluble salts and oxidation may occur.

R layer
Also known as bedrock. This is
weathered parent material.

Soil Formation
Mature soil that has developed at least
three to four of the layers just described
takes tens to hundreds of thousands of
years to develop.

Steps in Soil Formation

Soil formation begins by the weathering of
Weathering of bedrock continues to occur,
but after soil is formed the top layers
depend on the decomposition of organic

Steps in Soil Formation

Healthy soil contains large amounts of
microscopic decomposers* that
breakdown organic material.
This explains how the biosphere affects
Earths System and Earths systems affect
the biosphere.

Section 2: Soil Changes

Soil can change based on additions and
Additions are from the decomposition of
vegetation and organisms or through
deposition from wind or water.

Loses occur through the movement of

wind or water, uptake by plants, or the
movement particles being eroded, leached
or harvested. This results in an alteration
of the chemical or physical makeup of the

Topsoil Erosion
Half the top soil on Earth has been lost in
the past 150 years.
Soil is at risk due to overgrazing,
deforestation, the use of agrochemicals
and soil salinity.

Soil Erosion*
The movement of soil components
(usually topsoil) from one place to another
due to the actions of wind or water.

Soil Erosion
Soil Erosion has three harmful effects.
Loss of soil fertility
Water pollution
Soil pollution

Soil Erosion
This can happen naturally through a
drought. This would lead to the loss of
plant life in the area. This example
explains how Earths systems can effect
the biosphere*.

Deforestation is the removal of of trees
from a forested area.
This often results in the erosion of topsoil
in a specific area.

Conversion of rangeland, or cropland to a
desert-like land. Usually caused from soil
erosion, overgrazing, prolonged drought
or climate change.

Soil Salinity
Cropland that is irrigated uses water which
contains dissolved minerals. When the
water evaporates it leaves the minerals
behind. This will eventually kill the plants
and ruin the land.

Section 3: Sustainable Food

Fifty percent of all people live on the
equivalent of $2.25 a day. This makes
poverty the leading cause of world hunger.
Other obstacles include war, corruption,
political upheaval, bad weather, and
climate change.

Growing Population
By 2050, it is expected for the population
to grow by 2.6 billion people. This raises a
significant challenge in feeding this
massive population.

Types of Agriculture
1. ) Industrialized uses heavy equipment,
fossil fuels, water, commercial pesticides
and inorganic fertilizer to produce one
type of crop.

2.) Traditional Agriculture

This uses human labor, solar energy,
rainfall, and natural fertilizers to provide for
the local community.

3.) Organic Agriculture

Crops are grown without the use of
synthetic pesticides, synthetic pesticides
synthetic inorganic fertilizers and
genetically engineered varieties. Animals
Must be raised on 100% organic feed
without the use of antibiotics or growth

Pro They less fertilizer, resistant to
harmful substances, and grows faster.
Con unpredictable, can spread
resistance to other plants, and could
disrupt biodiversity.

Pros - increased meat production,
reduced overgrazing, and less land use.
Cons higher greenhouse admissions,
increased use of antibiotics, and uses a
large amount of resources.

Pros high efficiency, high yield, and
reduces overfishing.
Cons can deplete wild fisheries through
the use of fish oil, loss of estuaries, and
more prone to disease.

Chemical Pesticides
Pros higher production, efficient, and
can be safe if used correctly.
Cons promote resistance, expensive,
harm other organisms, and it can cause

Explain how Earths systems can affect
the biosphere.
Explain how the biosphere can effect
Earths systems.