Soil Testing Trivia Questions and Answers

Person crouches down with a handful of sand that slips through their fingers

1: What is one of the primary purposes of a soil test in agriculture?
A: To determine soil color
B: To estimate plant-available concentrations of nutrients
C: To measure soil temperature
D: To observe insect activity
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Soil tests are used to estimate the plant-available concentrations of nutrients to provide fertilizer recommendations.

2: Which university labs recommend that a soil test contains 10-20 sample points for every 40 acres of field?
A: Harvard and MIT
B: Iowa State and Colorado State
C: Stanford and UCLA
D: Oxford and Cambridge
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Labs at Iowa State and Colorado State University recommend this sampling density for accurate soil testing results.

3: What technology is often used in precision agriculture to geolocate soil samples?
A: Infrared cameras
B: Drones
C: GPS technology
D: Satellite imaging
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: GPS technology is used to estimate the geospatial distribution of nutrients in the sampled area.

4: What is one way to preserve soil samples for many months?
A: Freeze-drying
B: Air drying
C: Cooking
D: Submerging in water
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Air drying can preserve the soil sample for many months by slowing chemical changes.

5: Which of the following is NOT a category of plant nutrients tested in laboratory soil tests?
A: Major nutrients
B: Secondary nutrients
C: Minor nutrients
D: Essential oils
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Essential oils are not tested in soil tests; the focus is on nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other minerals.

6: Which country has more than ten different standard methods for soil phosphorus tests?
A: United States
B: India
C: Australia
D: Europe
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Europe has over ten different soil phosphorus tests currently in use, making results from these tests not directly comparable.

7: What major nutrients do DIY soil testing kits commonly check for?
A: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron
B: Phosphorus, potassium, and sodium
C: Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
D: Calcium, iron, and potassium
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: DIY soil testing kits commonly check for the three major nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

8: What analysis technology might laboratory soil tests utilize?
A: Flow injection technology
B: Chemical dyes
C: Flame photometry
D: Laser ablation
Correct Answer: A
Explanation: Lab tests often utilize very precise flow injection technology for accurate results.

9: What physical characteristic of soil might be determined using an oedometer test in geotechnical engineering?
A: Water content
B: Rate of consolidation
C: Grain size
D: Color
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: An oedometer test is used to measure the consolidation properties of the soil.

10: Which soil contaminant is particularly dangerous, especially for children and pregnant women?
A: Zinc
B: Lead
C: Copper
D: Boron
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Lead is a particularly dangerous soil component, especially for children and pregnant women.

11: For precision agriculture in the U.S., what is a common grid resolution for soil sampling?
A: 1 acre per grid
B: 2.5 acres per grid
C: 5 acres per grid
D: 10 acres per grid
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: A grid distribution with a resolution of 2.5 acres per grid is commonly used for soil sampling.

12: What should be used along with soil composition reports from laboratories since 2004?
A: Fertilizer recommendations
B: Weather forecasts
C: Crop rotation schedules
D: Water usage statistics
Correct Answer: A
Explanation: Since 2004, laboratories have begun providing fertilizer recommendations along with soil composition reports.

13: How soon after extraction should soil be analyzed for accurate chemical composition?
A: Within 1 week
B: Within 48 hours
C: Within 72 hours
D: Within 24 hours
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Soil should be analyzed within 24 hours after extraction to improve chemical composition accuracy.

14: What is the purpose of composite sampling?
A: To test soil color
B: To combine soil from various locations before analysis
C: To avoid testing the soil entirely
D: To measure soil temperature
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Composite sampling is the procedure of combining soil from several locations prior to analysis.

15: What secondary nutrient is included in agricultural soil tests?
A: Nitrogen
B: Potassium
C: Sulfur
D: Iron
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Sulfur is a secondary nutrient included in soil tests.

16: What should you avoid to prevent skewing soil test results during composite sampling?
A: Using GPS
B: Combining samples improperly
C: Labeling samples
D: Drying soil
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Improperly combining samples during composite sampling can skew results, so it must be done judiciously.

17: What should be minimized to limit exposure to lead in garden soils?
A: Watering
B: Dust
C: Sunlight
D: Weeding
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Keeping dust to a minimum can help limit exposure to lead in garden soils.

18: What specific nutrient is often measured using a chemical extraction method in soil tests?
A: Nitrogen
B: Potassium
C: Phosphorus
D: Magnesium
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Plant-available phosphorus is often measured using a chemical extraction method.

19: In which sampling method are soil samples geolocated using GPS technology?
A: Composite sampling
B: Precision agriculture
C: Bulk sampling
D: Random sampling
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: In precision agriculture, soil samples are geolocated using GPS technology.

20: What is one non-chemical characteristic measured in soil tests for geotechnical engineering?
A: Soil pH
B: Shear strength
C: Mineral content
D: Nutrient density
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Soil tests in geotechnical engineering often measure physical characteristics like shear strength.

21: What process is used to predict soil bulk density using easier measurable parameters?
A: Spectroscopy
B: Pedotransfer functions
C: Hydroponics
D: Photogrammetry
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Pedotransfer functions predict soil bulk density using easily measurable parameters like soil texture, pH, and organic matter.

22: Which physical soil test measures how soil behaves when it’s consolidated under stress?
A: Vane shear test
B: Atterberg limits
C: Oedometer test
D: Permeability test
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: The oedometer test measures soil consolidation properties under stress.

23: What type of crops should prefer be planted in lead-contaminated garden soils?
A: Root vegetables
B: Fruiting crops
C: Leafy greens
D: All crops
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Planting fruiting crops like tomatoes and squash can reduce the risk of lead exposure.

24: Which common soil contaminants include arsenic and mercury?
A: Essential nutrients
B: Secondary nutrients
C: Toxic minerals
D: Minor nutrients
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Arsenic and mercury are examples of toxic minerals often found as soil contaminants.

25: Which soil component’s availability can be minimized by maintaining a soil pH of 6.5?
A: Nitrogen
B: Potassium
C: Lead
D: Zinc
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Maintaining a pH of 6.5 helps minimize lead availability in the soil.

26: Which kind of kits are often sold at farming cooperatives and gardening stores for soil testing?
A: Advanced lab kits
B: DIY kits
C: Electrical kits
D: Molecular kits
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: DIY soil testing kits, which test for major nutrients and pH levels, are often sold in these stores.

27: What kind of test might use flow injection technology to analyze soil content?
A: DIY soil tests
B: Lab tests
C: Electrical meter tests
D: Visual inspection tests
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Lab tests often use precise flow injection technology for soil analysis.

28: Which soil nutrient is classified under major nutrients?
A: Sulfur
B: Calcium
C: Nitrogen
D: Zinc
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Nitrogen is a major nutrient measured in soil tests.

29: What simple technique can help preserve soil during transportation for testing?
A: Boiling it
B: Freezing it
C: Mixing it
D: Sun drying it
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Freezing soil samples can slow chemical changes and preserve them during transportation.

30: What garden preference can help minimize exposure to lead?
A: Planting ornamental plants
B: Using chemical fertilizers
C: Growing fruiting crops
D: Increasing soil acidity
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Growing fruiting crops in lead-contaminated soils can help minimize exposure.

31: For the purpose of determining soil’s void ratio, which type of test is used?
A: Permeability test
B: Grain size analysis
C: Specific gravity test
D: Water content test
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: The specific gravity test measures the void ratio among other characteristics of the soil.

32: Why should a soil test include a reference map of the sample locations?
A: To measure soil temperature
B: To determine biodiversity
C: To properly interpret test results
D: To find soil pH
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: A reference map helps in the proper interpretation of soil test results by recording the location and quantity of field samples.

33: What change occurs in soil properties once it’s removed from its natural ecosystem?
A: Temperature stabilization
B: Increased plant growth
C: Chemical degradation
D: Enhanced nutrient content
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Removal from its natural environment leads to chemical changes in the soil.

34: What type of soil contaminants are commonly found in mineral form?
A: Beneficial bacteria
B: Heavy metals
C: Organic matter
D: Essential vitamins
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Toxic heavy metals like lead and cadmium are common mineral soil contaminants.

35: How frequently must soil sample composition be analyzed to maintain accuracy after collection?
A: Monthly
B: Quarterly
C: Daily
D: Securely within 24 hours
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Analyzing soil samples within 24 hours after collection helps ensure compositional accuracy before significant changes occur.

36: What laboratory test might measure soil swell pressure?
A: Vane shear test
B: Dry density test
C: Atterberg limits test
D: Free swell index test
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: The free swell index test is used to measure the swell pressure of soil.

37: What action can skew composite soil test results?
A: Mixing samples after analyzing
B: Collecting samples at night
C: Improper sample combination
D: Marking sample locations on a map
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Improper combination of samples during composite sampling can skew the results of the soil test.

38: In agricultural soil testing, what is typically measured for phosphorus content?
A: Soil acidity
B: Plant growth rate
C: Chemical extraction method
D: Soil moisture level
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Phosphorus content is most often measured through a chemical extraction method in soil testing.

39: What process slows down chemical changes in soil samples during storage?
A: Heating
B: Keeping wet
C: Air drying
D: Sealing in plastic
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Air drying soil samples can slow down chemical changes during storage.

40: What is a key benefit of using GPS technology in soil sampling for precision agriculture?
A: Predicting weather patterns
B: Estimating geospatial nutrient distribution
C: Increasing soil moisture
D: Decreasing soil pH
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: GPS technology is used to estimate geospatial nutrient distribution in precision agriculture.

41: What lab equipment might be used in soil testing for detailed mineral analysis?
A: Electrical meters
B: Flow injection analyzers
C: Bunsen burners
D: Test tubes
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Flow injection analyzers are precise equipment used for detailed mineral analysis in soil testing.

42: Which type of engineering soil test measures soil compressibility?
A: Triaxial shear test
B: Grain size analysis
C: Atterberg limits
D: Oedometer test
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: The Oedometer test measures the compressibility and consolidation characteristics of the soil.

43: What substance is referred to by the “universal soil extractant” in comprehensive soil testing?
A: Iron sulfate
B: Ammonium bicarbonate DTPA
C: Sodium chloride
D: Potassium phosphate
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Ammonium bicarbonate DTPA is used as a universal soil extractant for comprehensive soil testing.

44: How do DIY soil test kits typically compare to lab tests?
A: More accurate but slower
B: Equal in accuracy but less expensive
C: Less accurate and less comprehensive
D: Faster and more comprehensive
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: DIY soil test kits are generally less accurate and less comprehensive compared to lab tests.

45: What is the key purpose of the Atterberg limits test in soil testing?
A: Determine soil temperature
B: Measure plasticity of soil
C: Identify soil color
D: Check for pests
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: The Atterberg limits test measures the plasticity of soil, determining its consistency limits.

46: What precaution should be taken when handling soil samples to ensure accurate test results?
A: Avoid sunlight exposure
B: Use only metal containers
C: Store in hot environments
D: Fast analysis
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Fast analysis of soil samples after extraction ensures accurate test results as chemical changes are minimized.

47: What soil property does the vane shear test typically measure?
A: Soil color
B: Shear strength
C: Nutrient content
D: Moisture level
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: The vane shear test is used to measure the shear strength of the soil.

48: What is an effective way to keep dust to a minimum in lead-contaminated soil areas?
A: Regular watering
B: Adding fertilizers
C: Avoiding soil disturbance
D: Maintaining a mulched surface
Correct Answer: D
Explanation: Maintaining a mulched surface helps keep dust to a minimum and reduces lead exposure.

49: What should labs provide along with soil composition reports for better agricultural management?
A: Soil color photographs
B: Plant pest information
C: Fertilizer recommendations
D: Watering schedules
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Labs often provide fertilizer recommendations along with soil composition reports for better agricultural management.

50: What is the primary function of soil testing in agriculture and horticulture?
A: Determine soil color
B: Facilitate fertilizer composition and dosage selection
C: Measure soil temperature
D: Observe plant root growth
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Soil testing helps in selecting the appropriate fertilizer composition and dosage for agricultural and horticultural use.

51: In geotechnical engineering, what valuable information does the triaxial shear test provide?
A: Water content
B: Shear strength
C: Soil temperature
D: Mineral content
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: The triaxial shear test provides data on the shear strength of the soil.

52: What should be created to accurately interpret soil test results?
A: A reference map of sample locations
B: Soil color charts
C: Weather forecasts
D: Crop growth guides
Correct Answer: A
Explanation: A reference map of sample locations helps in accurately interpreting soil test results.

53: What does the specific gravity test in soil determine besides void ratio?
A: Soil color
B: Soil density
C: Soil acidity
D: Root depth potential
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: The specific gravity test helps determine the soil density and void ratio.

54: For preventing lead exposure, what pH level is recommended when liming soil?
A: 5.0
B: 6.5
C: 7.5
D: 8.0
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: A soil pH level of 6.5 minimizes lead availability and helps prevent lead exposure.

55: What common practice in garden soil management helps reduce lead contamination risks?
A: Use of pesticides
B: Adding organic material
C: Planting high-density crops
D: Increasing soil temperature
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Incorporating organic materials like compost reduces lead contamination risks.

56: What information do electrical meters provide in soil tests?
A: Nutrients for major nutrients
B: Soil color and plant types
C: Soil pH and water content
D: Microbial activity
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Electrical meters measure soil pH, water content, and sometimes nutrient content.

57: When are professional interpretations of soil test results particularly useful?
A: Determining soil color
B: During DIY testing
C: In laboratory tests
D: For casual gardening
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Professional interpretations of results in laboratory tests offer precise, actionable insights.

58: What key function does nitrogen play in plant growth, as measured in soil tests?
A: Root development
B: Flower production
C: Leafy growth and overall vigor
D: Fruit ripening
Correct Answer: C
Explanation: Nitrogen is essential for leafy growth and overall plant vigor.

59: In what form are laboratory test recommendations often presented to farmers and gardeners?
A: Verbal suggestions
B: Detailed reports
C: Visual diagrams
D: Historical data
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Detailed reports from labs include results, recommendations, and interpretations for farmers and gardeners.

60: What crucial step is advised for sampling geography in precision agriculture?
A: Random sample spots
B: Geolocated sampling
C: Cluster sampling
D: Multi-year samples
Correct Answer: B
Explanation: Geolocated sampling ensures accurate assessment of nutrient distribution with precision agriculture techniques.

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