Soil and Water Conservation

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Resources include the Soil and Water Conservation merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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Soil and Water Conservation merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1952
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 106
Requirements revision: 2017
Latest pamphlet revision: 2016


Conservation isn't just the responsibility of soil and plant scientists, hydrologists, wildlife managers, landowners, and the forest or mine owner alone. It is the duty of every person to learn more about the natural resources on which our lives depend so that we can help make sure that these resources are used intelligently and cared for properly.

A number of changes to the text of the requirements for this merit badge were first published in the Soil and Water Conservation merit badge pamphlet (#33291A) issued in 2004. The revised requirements were also included in the version of the pamphlet issued in 2008 (#35952) and in the 2010 revision of the 2004 edition (#35952 - SKU 610016) and each printing of each of those editions. However, the revised text was not included the 2005 edition of Boy Scout Requirements, nor in any of the subsequent editions of that booklet, up to and including the 2017 edition which have all included the older wording of the requirements. The 2018 edition of Boy Scout Requirements is also missing requirement 4e.
What is shown below is the text from the merit badge pamphlets, NOT the text in Boy Scout Requirements.

Soil and Water Conservation merit badge requirements

  1. Do the following:
    a. Tell what soil is. Tell how it is formed.
    b. Describe three kinds of soil. Tell how they are different.
    c. Name the three main plant nutrients in fertile soil. Tell how they can be put back when used up.
  2. Do the following:
    a. Define soil erosion.
    b. Tell why soil conservation is important. Tell how it affects you.
    c. Name three kinds of soil erosion. Describe each.
    d. Take pictures of or draw two kinds of soil erosion.
  3. Do the following:
    a. Tell what is meant by "conservation practices".
    b. Describe the effect of three kinds of erosion-control practices.
    c. Take pictures of or draw three kinds of erosion-control practices.
  4. Do the following:
    a. Explain what a watershed is.
    b. Outline the smallest watershed that you can find on a contour map.
    c. Outline, as far as the map will allow, the next larger watershed that also has the smaller one in it.
    d. Explain what a river basin is. Tell why all people living in a river basin should be concerned about land and water use in the basin.
    e. Explain what an aquifer is and why it can be important to communities.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Make a drawing to show the hydrologic cycle.
    b. Demonstrate at least two of the following actions of water in relation to the soil: percolation, capillary action, precipitation, evaporation, transpiration.
    c. Explain how removal of vegetation will affect the way water runs off a watershed.
    d. Tell how uses of forest, range, and farmland affect usable water supply.
    e. Explain how industrial use affects water supply.
  6. Do the following:
    a. Tell what is meant by water pollution.
    b. Describe common sources of water pollution and explain the effects of each.
    c. Tell what is meant by "primary water treatment," "secondary waste treatment," and "biochemical oxygen demand."
    d. Make a drawing showing the principles of complete waste treatment.
  7. Do TWO of the following:
    a. Make a trip to two of the following places. Write a report of more than 500 words about the soil and water and energy conservation practices you saw.
    1. An agricultural experiment.
    2. A managed forest or a woodlot, range, or pasture.
    3. A wildlife refuge or a fish or game management area.
    4. A conservation-managed farm or ranch.
    5. A managed watershed.
    6. A waste-treatment plant.
    7. A public drinking water treatment plant.
    8. An industry water-use installation.
    9. A desalinization plant.
    b. Plant 100 trees, bushes and/or vines for a good purpose.
    c. Seed an area of at least one-fifth acre for some worthwhile conservation purposes, using suitable grasses or legumes alone or in a mixture.
    d. Study a soil survey report. Describe the things in it. Using tracing paper and pen, trace over any of the soil maps, and outline an area with three or more different kinds of soil. List each kind of soil by full name and map symbol.
    e. Make a list of places in your neighborhood, camps, school ground, or park having erosion, sedimentation, or pollution problems. Describe how these could be corrected through individual or group action.
    f. Carry out any other soil and water conservation project approved by your merit badge counselor.

The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Scouts BSA Requirements, 2019 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #648914)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Soil and Water Conservation is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Soil and Water Conservation requirements. has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

Soil and Water Conservation merit badge is required for the National Outdoor Badge for Conservation.
Soil and Water Conservation merit badge requires prior counselor approval for requirement(s) #7f.
The Soil and Water Conservation merit badge is an option for the Let It Grow!, Splash!, Harris Bronze Supernova and Edison Silver Supernova STEM Nova Awards.
  1. Soil and Water Conservation is a popular summer camp merit badge.
  2. Soil and Water Conservation is one of the elective merit badges for the World Conservation Award for Scouts BSA, and one of the elective merit badges for the William T. Hornaday awards for Scouts BSA.

Requirement resources

Related awards

Ecology-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools