Water and Soil Conservation


Drinkable; suitable for drinking.

Fresh water

Water such as lake water, river water, pond water and well water that most organisms can drink or use for life functions.


Having to do with the household or family; not foreign

Tide water

The water that flows up the mouth of a river as the ocean tide rises or comes in.

Universal solvent

Water- due to its polarity and ability to dissolve many different solutes

Water cycle

The continuous process by which water moves from Earth's surface to the atmosphere and back.


A type of biome characterized by low moisture levels and infrequent and unpredictable precipitation. Daily and seasonal temperatures fluctuate widely.


The addition of water to plants to supplement the water provided by rain or snow.


Any form of water that falls from clouds and reaches Earth's surface.


A change from a liquid to a gas at a temperature that is lower than the boiling point.


An ecosystem where all water runoff drains into a single body of water

Water table

The upper level of the saturated zone of groundwater.


A measure of how well the soil supports plant growth


Soil that has water added until all of the pore spaces are filled with water.

Gravitational water

Water that is not bound to solutes or surfaces; moves from areas of high water potential to areas of low water potential; water held at low pressures that will drain freely down through and out of the soil in response to gravity. This water is unavailable to plants.

Capillary water

Water held as a film around soil particles and in tiny spaces between particles. Surface tension is the adhesive force that holds capillary water in the soil. This water is available for plant root absorption.

Hygroscopic water

That portion of the soil moisture that is so tightly bound to each soil particle that it is unavailable to plant roots.


Make pure or clean; decontaminate


Farming that excludes the usage of tillage to avoid the negative effects of tillage such as loss of organic matter, soil erosion, etc, leaves roots holding soil

Contour farming

Plowing and planting across the changing slope of land, rather than in straight lines, to help retain water and reduce soil erosion.

Cover crop

Plants such a rye, alfalfa, or clover, that can be planted immediately after harvest to hold and protect the soil.


Processes by which rock, sand, and soil are broken down and carried away (i.e. weathering, glaciation)


A body of rock or sediment that stores groundwater and allows the flow of groundwater.

Sheet erosion

A type of surface water erosion caused by runoff that occurs when water flowing as sheets picks up sediments and carries them away

Gully erosion

removal of layers of soil, creating channels or ravines too large to be removed by normal tillage operations


A protective covering, usually of organic matter such as leaves, straw, or peat, placed around plants to prevent the evaporation of moisture, the freezing of roots, and the growth of weeds.

Conservation tillage

Method of cultivation in which residues from previous crops are left in the soil, partially covering it and helping to hold it in place until the newly planted seeds are established

Plant residue

The plant material that remains when a plant dies or is harvested.

Contour practice

Conducting all operations, such as plowing, disking, planting, cultivating, and harvesting, across the slope and on the level.

Strip cropping

A type of BMP (Best Management Practice) whereby the farmer grows at least 2 different crops in the same field. Each crop is planted in alternating strips.

Crop Rotation

The practice of rotating use of different fields from crop to crop each year, to avoid exhausting the soil.

Organic matter

Leaves, twigs, roots, dead worms and insects, matter that has once been alive


Absorbent soil particles composed of decomposed organic matter and mineral soils.


A material that reduces the acid content of soil; it also supplies nutrients such as calcium and magnesium.


A substance that promotes plant growth by supplying essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium or any of the other elements essential for plant growth.

Grassed waterway

A natural or constructed waterway, typically broad and shallow, seeded to grass as protection against erosion.


A soil structure built across the slope to capture water and move it safely to areas where it will not cause erosion.


Destruction of vegetation caused by too many grazing animals consuming the plants in a particular area so they cannot recover

Conservation plan

Combination of land uses and practices to protect and improve the soil productivity and to prevent soil deterioration.


Most of the Earth's surface is covered with ___________.


The bodies of plants, animals, and humans consist of about what percent water?

thin soup

The content of ocean water may be likened to __________.

food chain

The interdependence of plants and animals on each other for food is known as a _________________.

coal and oil

The land serving as a heat and compression chamber gives us _____________.


Appropriate water use, storage, and handling and the proper management of land can help to achieve the ____________ of water quality.


Soil deposited by water.


Town with a harbor.

rock formation

An aquifer is a water bearing ____________.


One inch of topsoil may be formed from bedrock in about _________ years.

1.6 billion

Each year in the United States, about ________ tons of soil are worn away from 417 million acres of farmland and deposited into lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

41 million

About ______________ acres, or about 10 percent, of our nation's cropland are highly erodible at rates of 50 or more tons per acre per year.