Processes of soil formation

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Soil formation is brought about through the activities of some factor which are called Agents of Soil formation.

Soil formation occurs more quickly through the action of water, wind, man and animals.


Action of water: Water from rain carries rock particles downhill, and deposits them on a flat ground to form soil. Water from rivers and streams carry with it leaves, grasses and dead wood, and deposits them on the banks where they decay to form soil. In addition, acidic rain helps to break rocks into particles by chemical activities. Acidic rain is formed when rain water mixes with a type of gas in the air.


Action of man: Man, through his activities, helps to form soil by the following processes: ploughing, mulching, compost making, movement of rocks and disposal of household waste.

Ploughing: During ploughing, Man clears the vegetation on the land. He leaves some to decay on the ground to form soil. He puts some in the soil in the form of manure. All these decay to form soil.

Mulching: Man cuts grasses and spreads them on seed beds in the form of mulch. These grasses later decay to form soil.

Household waste: Man drops household waste in refuse dumps. The contents of refuse dumps decay to form farmyard manure and compost. The manure is spread on the farm where it forms soil.

Compost making: Man cuts some plants and uses them to make compost. He spreads the compost on his farm where it mixes with other particles to form soil.

Movement of rocks: Man carries rock pieces in lorries and tippers from one place to another, where they are deposited to form soil.


Action of animals: Animals, such as termites, eat dead plants and change them to soil through their droppings.


Action of wind: Wind blows across deserts and dry areas carrying soil particles with it. These particles fall and cover grasses and shrubs. The grasses and shrubs later die where they are covered. When rain falls, they decay and form soil.



  1. Name six agents of soil formation.
  2. Name four activities of man that help in soil formation.
  3. Describe each of these activities mentioned above.
  4. Describe how the action of wind helps in soil formation.
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