Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Soil Temperature

Figure from experiment 9 from Earth Science with Vernier


How do flowers and other plants know when to start growing in the spring? How do farmers know when it is safe to plant their crops? Soil temperature plays an important role in both of these decisions. Each spring, soil is heated from above by warmer air and by solar radiation. Once the soil reaches a certain temperature, it is time to plant and grow.

Soil temperature changes more slowly than the air temperature, so there is always a lag time between the extremes of air temperatures and soil temperatures. Because of daily temperature fluctuations, the soil could be cooler than the air in the daytime and warmer than the air in the nighttime.

Soil temperatures also change with depth. The deeper the soil, the more constant the temperature will be. Because of this, when referring to soil temperatures, the depth at which the measurements were taken is also important.

In this experiment, you will use Temperature Probes to monitor the soil temperature at three different depths. A lamp and a bowl of ice will be used to simulate day and night over a two-day period. You will observe how soil temperatures vary at different depths and the timing of these variations.


In this experiment, you will

  • Simulate temperature changes over a two-day period.
  • Use Temperature Probes to measure the temperature of soils at different depths.
  • Explain your results.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Earth Science with Vernier »

Experiment 9 from Earth Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Earth Science with Vernier</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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