Soil Erosion Experiment demonstrates how rain plays a major role in soil erosion and how can we conserve the soil from eroding.


Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is the loss of the top most layer of soil. In the process of soil erosion, several nutrients will be washed away as the top layer contains more nutrients that eventually result in changing of productive land into barren land. Water, wind, and human activities are three major factors responsible for soil erosion.


Process of soil erosion occurs in 3 steps:

1. Detachment – top soil gets detached from a place.

2. Transportation- soil particles get transported by wind or water.

3. Deposition- the place where eroded soil deposits (mainly streams and lakes).


How Rain Affects Soil Erosion

When rainfall falls directly on the top layer of soil, the particles of soil get dislodged and splashed away. If this rainfall continues for a longer period, runoff takes places down the slope along with loose soil particles which eventually get deposited at someplace where it is not needed. The only way to prevent this soil erosion is by growing plants because the roots of plants bind with the soil particles which help in preventing soil erosion.


Soil Erosion Experiment

Let us perform an activity to demonstrate the need for plants in preventing soil erosion. In the following activity, we will consider three conditions and compare them. They are

1. Soil with plants

2. Soil with mulch (dried leaves)

3. Soil alone.


Materials Required 

6 bottles



Small plants

Mulching material (dried leaves)



Cardboard sheet




1. Take 3 large size plastic bottles (preferably drink bottles). Cut them vertically with the cutter, making a rectangular hole in the middle of the bottle such that we can fill it with soil. Use a permanent marker to mark and cut according to your need.

2. Take a cardboard sheet and stick those three bottles onto the cardboard with the help of glue. Make sure that the neck of bottles should hang a little as shown in the figure.

Soil Erosion Experiment
Soil Erosion Experiment

3. Fill 3 bottles with garden soil. Flatten it or press firmly to compact it.

4. Leave the first bottle with only soil.

5. In the second bottle add mulching material like dried leaves, barks, wooden chips, etc. on the top of the soil.

Soil Erosion Experiment
Soil Erosion Experiment

6. Plant a plant in the third bottle. We should carefully plant it and press it down gently.

7. Cut the remaining three bottles into half and make two holes opposite to each other near the cut end.

8. Insert the thread between two ends and tie it to the large size bottle as shown in the figure such that it acts as a bucket for collecting water. Hang the bucket to the neck of a large bottle.

9. Do the same thing for the remaining bottles also.

10. Pour an equal amount of water into three bottles slowly. Try to cover the entire surface of the bottle rather than pouring in one spot. Then water will be collected into the buckets of three bottles.

Soil Erosion Experiment
Soil Erosion Experiment

11. Observe the color of the water collected.



1. Water collected in the first bottle (containing only soil) is dark brown because the soil is loose and is washed off along with water into the bottle.

2. Water collected from the second one (with mulch) contains less dirt than the first one.

3. Water collected from the third one (with plants)  is free of dirt that means no soil particles are carried out along with water.


Why this Happened

1. Because plants act as a protective covering over the soil, it slows down the water as it allows much of water to soak into the ground, moreover the roots of plants tightly bind soil particles hence preventing soil erosion.

2. Mulch acts as a barrier that spread over the topsoil and reduces the impact of raindrops striking soil making less amount of soil affected by erosion.




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About Author

Swathi Tanuja Adari has completed her Bachelor’s in Agricultural Engineering. Her interests include gardening and reading books.


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