Soil and Water Conservation

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Soil and Water Conservation merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1952
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 106
Requirements revision: 2005
Latest pamphlet revision: 2004


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 which 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.
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 is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2007 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)


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.

Per the BSA: You should read the merit badge pamphlet on the subject. Merit badge pamplets are available at your local Scout Shop or online at

1. This badge is one of the merit badges required to earn the World Conservation Award.

2. This badge is one of the merit badges required to earn one of the William T. Hornaday Awards.

Help with these requirements

1a: What's the Difference Between Soil and Dirt?

2: The Soil Erosion Site

3: National Conservation Practice Standards

4: What is a Watershed? From the Watershed Atlas.

5a: The Hydrologic/Water Cycle From the University of North Dakota's Earthscape Project.

5b: Capillary Action

5b: Soil Percolation

6: Water Pollution FAQs

6c: Water Quality Monitor: Biochemical Oxygen Demand

6c/d: Wastewater Treatment Principles and Regulations

7d: How to Use a Soil Survey From the USDA's Natural Resources Conversation Service.

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