In the hot, wet areas of the world, large jungles can form, with lots of different trees, animals, and flowers. Not all tropical soils are jungles. The Savannah in Africa is vast grassland that is full of life as well. Even though it looks like the soils here must have many nutrients to support this large variety of life, which just isn’t so. Because of the high amounts of rainfall and the heat, these soils have very little organic matter left, and the large amounts of rainfall cause all other nutrients to leach out. Humans, when they try to farm in this region can completely destroy these soils and there few nutrients if they are not careful.

This lesson is appropriate for grades 4+.


Tropical Soils


Lesson Objectives:


1)  Be able to show on a map of the world where tropical soils occur.          

2)  Be able to discuss how tropical soils differ form some other soils.

3)  Be able to list some soil management practices that can improve tropical soils.  

4)  Be able to tell why tropical soil are often red.


Glossary of terms:


In current glossary:

  • Organic matter
  • Nutrients
  • Fertility
  • Erosion           


Other glossary words:

  • Ultisols – acidic, strongly leached, older soils
  • Oxisols - very weathered soils of tropical and subtropical environments
  • Landslide- rapid movement of soils downhill
  • Clear cut – removing all of the trees from a surface area


Activities or information:


1) Tropical soils


Study Questions:


1) Why are tropical soils often red and deep?

2) How can humans turn tropical soils into dirt?

3) How can humans conserve soils in the tropics?