|The roots of the plants in this interior wetlands in North Carolina help protect the soil.|
Photo from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
The roots of wetland plants play a critical role in protecting the soil from erosion and keeping it in place. Want to see hands-on for yourself if and how roots hold soil in place? Try this simple experiment. Here's what you'll need:
- 5 radish seeds
- 5 mustard seeds
- 2 glass or plastic contains, about 1-cup volume
- earth/soil free from lumps
Fill both containers roughly 2/3 full of soil. Then plant the radish seeds in one container and the mustard seeds in the other. Cover the seeds very, very lightly with soil. Add 1/4 cup water to each container and place in a sunny area or near a bright light. Make sure the soil stays slightly damp.
After 2 weeks, empty the container with the radish seeds onto some newspaper. Do the same with the mustard seed container. What shape does the soil have? Why? Talk about the impact of this discovery. What would happen to the soil if a fire burned all the plant material from a hillside if there was a heavy rain?
Students will have fun with this simple experiment, and you will, too!