Soil-Net Downloads

In addition to the many other activities and resources available on Soil-Net, we are pleased to provide links here to a number of related downloadable soil-related resources which accompany well the other materials on the wider website.

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Down to Earth – an Introduction to Soils

Professor Stephen Nortcliff

Down to Earth cover

‘Down to Earth’ is a 55 page booklet, published in 1984, providing an excellent overview of soil-related issues. It offers a basic introduction to soils and describes in non-specialist language what soil is, how it forms, how and why it is classified and mapped, and how soil is used and affected by mankind.

Down to Earth was written for the general reader who wishes to discover more about our most precious natural resource. It will be found useful by school and college students of geography, geology, biology, environmental studies, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, soil science and related courses.

Down to Earth was written first to accompany a travelling exhibition of the same name, produced by Leicestershire Museums, Art Galleries and Records Service in conjunction with the Soil Survey of England and Wales.

Further information concerning Down to Earth can be obtained from the author:
Professor Stephen Nortcliff
Acting Head of School
School of Human and Environmental Sciences,
PO Box 227,
University of Reading,
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)118 378 7965
Tel: +44 (0)118 378 6559/6102
Fax: +44 (0)118 3786666

Nortcliff, S. (1984) Down to Earth – an Introduction to Soils. Leicestershire Museums, Art Galleries and Records Service. ISBN 0 850221439. 55pp.


Ground Work – Practical Ways of Learning about Soils
Maggie Jarman

Ground Work Cover

‘Ground Work’ is a 16 page booklet, published in 1984, providing a series of practical ways to learn about soil. The booklet covers themes such as: Digging in; Broadening your horizons; Making a good record; Soil and slopes; Taking the rough with the smooth; Soils are not just brown; Experimenting with soil chemistry; Water in soil; What lives in the soil; Common soil mini-beasts; Types of plant and types of soil; And did those feet?; How will your ‘garden’ grow?; and a Glossary game.

Jarman, M. (1984) Ground Work – Practical Ways of Learning about Soils. Juniper Hall Field Centre and Leicestershire Museums, Art Galleries and Records Service. ISBN 0 850221447. 16pp.


Soil Safari: Soil Worksheets and Teacher Notes
Teacher Notes:

Soil Safari Cover

BSSS LogoThe Soil Worksheets offer a 12 page set of soil-related activity sheets for classroom use together with 10 pages of accompanying teacher notes, (aimed at Primary Schools (or Grades 1 through 3) but equally appropriate for older students). Topics covered include: Learning about the site; Finding out what is growing in the soil and digging a soil pit; Looking at a soil profile; Looking for minibeasts; Soil colour; and Soil texture – the feel of the soil; Water in the soil. The materials are sourced from the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS).


Finally, here is a fantastic movie from the 1950s called 'The Making of Soil', filmed and directed by J.V.Durden and made by the Crown Film Unit. An interesting perspective on how the importance of soil has long been recognised. The film lasts about 35 minutes and covers many aspects of soil science, including: the raw materials of soil; the weathering of rocks; the influence of forest trees on soil formation; climatic and biological factors affecting the soil. This movie is presented on Soil-Net with the permission of the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS).

Making Parmesan Cheese

This video is about the making of Parmesan Cheese and follows the process of creating the traditional Parmigiano Reggiano at the Azienda agricola Il Calernese in Regione Emilia-Romagna in Italy. The video is prepared as a contribution to the UN International Year of Soil

The story emphasises the importance of the rich local soils in supporting the traditions of cheesemaking. To learn more about soil, visit Soil-Net