Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division, College Credit Plus
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
OSC0032, Soil and Plant Nutrition
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Media Formats:
Downloadable docs, Text/HTML

Education Standards (3)

Soil and Plant Nutrition Resources


Cucurbitaceae is a family of plants first cultivated in Mesoamerica, although several species are native to North America. The family includes many edible species, such as squash and pumpkin, as well as inedible gourds. In order to grow and develop into mature, fruit-bearing plants, many requirements must be met, and events must be coordinated. Seeds must germinate under the right conditions in the soil; therefore, temperature, moisture, and soil quality are important factors that play a role in germination and seedling development. Soil quality and climate are significant to plant distribution and growth. The young seedling will eventually grow into a mature plant, and the roots will absorb nutrients and water from the soil. At the same time, the aboveground parts of the plant will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use energy from sunlight to produce organic compounds through photosynthesis. This module will explore the complex dynamics between plants and soils, and the adaptations that plants have evolved to make better use of nutritional resources.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives (Biology II TAGs)

II.7: Compare the structure of nutrient procurement and processing systems in plants and animals.

V.1: Explain how regulatory mechanisms at the level of the whole organism ensure balance in living systems that interact continuously with their environments; compare regulatory mechanisms within and across species.

Recommended Textbook Resources

Chapter 31: Soil and Plant NutritionBiology 2e

OpenStax: Biology 2e

Plants are unique organisms that can absorb nutrients and water through their root system, as well as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Soil quality and climate are the major determinants of plant distribution and growth. The combination of soil nutrients, water, and carbon dioxide, along with sunlight, allows plants to grow. Chapter 31, Soil and Plant Nutrition, will explain the close relationship between soil dynamics and a plant’s nutritional needs.

Student Assessment Activities

Student Assessment Activities are below; instructors can also download Soil and Plant Nutrition Assessment Activities or Soil and Plant Nutrition Student Activity Google Doc.

Project 1:

Complete the end of the chapter “Review Questions”.  Make sure to answer each question thoroughly and include page numbers from the text where the answers can be found.  Be prepared to discuss your answers in a group setting during class.


Project 2:

Complete the end of the chapter “Critical Thinking Questions” according to your group number.  You will be sharing your responses with members from the other groups during class.  (This is a modified “Jigsaw” method.  To use this “Jigsaw” have everyone meet in their groups for a specified amount of time.  While they are discussing their responses/ideas separate everyone into new groups so that each new group has a representative from the original group.  Have the new groups meet for a specified amount of time to share their responses/ideas.  This way each person holds a piece of the overall puzzle.)

Group 1: 16-18

Group 2: 19-21

Group 3: 22-24


Project 3:

Divide the class into small groups.  Assign each group a different region of the United States (California coast, Rocky Mountains, Northwest Ohio, etc.).  Every group will perform research to learn about their regions soil quality and characteristics.  They will use their research to create a soil guide on Microsoft Word.  They can share their guides in class or through a program such as Google Docs.


Project 4:

Create a diagram or table that compares the soils found in tropical rainforests and in agricultural areas of temperate grasslands (prairies).  Then answer the following questions…

  1. How is each soil able to support plant life?
  2. Why are the soils of tropical rainforests and temperate grasslands so different?
  3. Why are the soils of temperate grasslands better suited for agriculture?
  4. What benefits would crop rotation provide in terms of soil quality?


Project 5:

Create a list of parasitic, epiphytic, and symbiotic plants found in Ohio (must have at least five plants total).  Include a full description of each plant (location, characteristics, unique attributes, etc.) within your list.