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Saving the Soil Reading Answers: IELTS Reading Practice

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Updated on Jul 02, 2024, 11:57

With adequate preparation and continuous practice, you will be able to score well on the IELTS READING test. Start your journey with Saving the Soil Reading Answers of Cambridge 13 and see how the section works. 
 

The passage explains how soil is a vital resource for agriculture and food production and how it plays a crucial role in maintaining the planet's ecosystem. The passage also discusses the various factors that contribute to soil degradation and the negative impacts it can have on the environment and human health.

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1. Saving the Soil Reading Passage

Discover exciting and informative IELTS reading answers about Saving the Soil

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2. Saving the Soil Reading Questions & Answers

Discover exciting and informative IELTS reading answers about Saving the Soil

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1.

Saving the Soil Reading Passage

General Instructions
General Instructions for IELTS Reading:

  • You will have 60 minutes to complete the entire reading test.
  • The test consists of three reading passages with a total of 40 questions.
  • The texts may be taken from books, magazines, journals, or newspapers.
  • You will receive an answer sheet and should write your answers on it.
  • The questions will be in different formats, such as multiple-choice, matching, sentence completion, and summary completion.
  • The reading passages will increase in difficulty as you progress through the test.
  • You cannot bring any electronic devices, including mobile phones, into the test room.

 

 

 

 

You should spend approximately 20 minutes answering Questions 1 - 13 based on the Reading Passage below. 

 

In the following passage, you will be given 3 sets of questions such as
  1. Summary Completion
  2. Matching Sentences
  3. Locating Information

 

 

Saving the soil Reading Passage


 

More than a third of the Earth’s top layer is at risk. Is there hope for our planet’s most precious resource?
 

Paragraph A
More than a third of the world’s soil is endangered, according to a recent UN report. If we don’t slow the decline, all farmable soil could be gone in 60 years. Since soil grows 95% of our food and sustains human life in other, more surprising ways, that is a huge problem.

 

Paragraph B
Peter Groffman, from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, points out that soil scientists have been warning about the degradation of the world’s soil for decades. At the same time, our understanding of its importance to humans has grown. A single gram of healthy soil might contain 100 million bacteria, as well as other microorganisms such as viruses and fungi, living amid decomposing plants and various minerals.

That means soils do not just grow our food but are the source of nearly all our existing antibiotics and could be our best hope in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Soil is also an ally against climate change: as microorganisms within soil digest dead animals and plants, they lock in their carbon content, holding three times the amount of carbon as does the entire atmosphere. Soils also store water, preventing flood damage: in the UK, damage to buildings, roads, and bridges from floods caused by soil degradation costs £233 million every year.
 

Paragraph C 
If the soil loses its ability to perform these functions, the human race could be in big trouble. The danger is not that the soil will disappear completely but that the microorganisms that give it its special properties will be lost. And once this has happened, it may take the soil thousands of years to recover.

Agriculture is by far the biggest problem. In the wild, when plants grow, they remove nutrients from the soil, but then, when the plants die and decay, these nutrients are returned directly to the soil. Humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it, meaning that the soil gradually becomes less fertile. In the past, we developed strategies to get around the problem, such as regularly varying the types of crops grown or leaving fields uncultivated for a season.
 

Paragraph D 
But these practices became inconvenient as populations grew and agriculture had to be run on more commercial lines. A solution came in the early 20th century with the Haber-Bosch process for manufacturing ammonium nitrate. Farmers have been putting this synthetic fertiliser on their fields ever since.

But over the past few decades, it has become clear this wasn’t such a bright idea. Chemical fertilisers can release polluting nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, and excess is often washed away with the rain, releasing nitrogen into rivers. More recently, we have found that indiscriminate use of fertilisers hurts the soil itself, turning it acidic and salty and degrading the soil they are supposed to nourish.
 

Paragraph E 
One of the people looking for a solution to his problem is Pius Floris, who started out running a tree-care business in the Netherlands and now advises some of the world’s topsoil scientists. He came to realise that the best way to ensure his trees flourished was to take care of the soil and has developed a cocktail of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and humus to do this. Researchers at the University of Valladolid in Spain recently used this cocktail on soils destroyed by years of fertiliser overuse. When they applied Floris’s mix to the desert-like test plots, a good crop of plants emerged that were not just healthy at the surface but had roots strong enough to pierce dirt as hard as a rock. The few plants that grew in the control plots, fed with traditional fertilisers, were small and weak
 

Paragraph F 
However, measures like this are not enough to solve the global soil degradation problem. To assess our options on a global scale, we first need an accurate picture of what types of soil are out there and the problems they face. That’s not easy. For one thing, there is no agreed international system for classifying soil. In an attempt to unify the different approaches, the UN has created the Global Soil Map project. Researchers from nine countries are working together to create a map linked to a database that can be fed measurements from field surveys, drone surveys, satellite imagery, lad analyses, and so on to provide real-time data on the state of the soil. Within the next four years, they aim to have mapped soils worldwide to a depth of 100 meters, with the results freely accessible to all.
 

Paragraph G: 
But this is only a first step. We need ways of presenting the problem that brings it home to governments and the wider public, says Pamela Chasek at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada. ‘Most scientists don’t speak the language that policy-makers can understand, and vice versa.’ Chasek and her colleagues have proposed a goal of ‘zero net land degradation’. Like the idea of carbon neutrality, it is an easily understood target that can help shape expectations and encourage action.

For soils on the brink, that may be too late. Several researchers are agitating for the immediate creation of protected zones for endangered soils. One difficulty here is defining what these areas should conserve: areas where the greatest soil diversity is present? Or areas of unspoiled soils that could act as a future benchmark of quality?

Whatever we do, if we want our soils to survive, we need to take action now.

2.

Saving the Soil Reading Questions and Answers

Discover exciting and informative IELTS reading answers about Saving the Soil

Questions and Answers 1-4
Complete the summary below You should say

  • Write ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer
  • Write your answers 1-4 on your answer sheet

 

Why soil degradation could be a disaster for humans

 

Healthy soil contains a large variety of bacteria and other microorganisms, as well as plant remains and 1 __________________ It provides us with food and also with antibiotics, and its function in storing 2 ________________ has a significant effect on the climate. In addition, it prevents damage to property and infrastructure because it holds 3 ____________

If these microorganisms are lost, the soil may lose its special properties. The main factor contributing to soil degradation is the 4 __________________ carried out by humans.

 

Saving the Soil Reading Answers with explanations (1-4)


 

Type of question: Summary Completion (selecting words from the text)

 

Under this task, you will be given a summary with incomplete sentences. However, you will not be given any list of words/phrases to choose the missing information. You must refer to the main passage to fill in the missing information. 
 

How to best answer
 

  • Read the summary to understand what information it’s missing
  • Identify keywords and locate them in the main passage to find missing words 
  • Review the context of the words you’ve chosen to match the summary
  • Finalise your answers 

 

1. Mineral

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph B: ‘A single gram of healthy soil might contain 100 million bacteria, as well as other microorganisms such as viruses and fungi, living amid decomposing plants and various minerals.’
 

Explanation

According to the above passage, a single gram of soil can contain up to 100 million of these microorganisms, all working together to maintain the balance of nutrients and minerals that plants need to grow. Without these microorganisms, our soil would be lifeless and unable to support plant growth.


 

2. Carbon

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph B: ‘Soil is also an ally against climate change: as microorganisms within soil digest dead animals and plants, they lock in their carbon content, holding three times the amount of carbon as does the entire atmosphere.’
 

Explanation

Microorganisms within healthy soil can digest dead plants and animals and lock in their carbon content, holding three times more carbon than the entire atmosphere. By protecting our soil and promoting healthy soil practices, we can help reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change.


 

3. Water

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph B: ‘Soils also store water, preventing flood damage: in the UK, damage to buildings, roads, and bridges from floods caused by soil degradation costs £233 million every year.’
 

Explanation:

Did you know that healthy soil can also help prevent flooding and the damage it causes? Soils can store water, reducing the risk of flooding and minimising the damage caused by floods. Protecting and preserving our soil can help prevent these devastating floods and save millions in damages.


 

4. Agriculture

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph C: ‘Agriculture is by far the biggest problem. In the wild, when plants grow, they remove nutrients from the soil, but then, when the plants die and decay, these nutrients are returned directly to the soil. Humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it, meaning that the soil gradually becomes less fertile.’
 

Explanation:

When plants grow, they naturally remove nutrients from the soil. When the plants die and decay in the wild, these nutrients are returned directly to the soil. However, in modern agriculture, humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it. 

Questions and Answers 5-8
  • Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-F, below.
  • Write correct letter A-F, in 5-8 on your answer sheet

 

18.  Nutrients contained in the unused parts of harvested crops


19.  Synthetic fertilisers produced with Haber-Bosch process


20.  Addition of a mixture developed by Pius Floris to the soil


21.  The idea of zero net soil degradation

 

A   may improve the number and quality of plants growing there.
B   may contain data from up to nine countries.
C   may not be put back into the soil.
D   may help governments to be more aware of soil-related issues.
E   may cause damage to different aspects of the environment.
F   may be better for use at a global level

 

Saving the Soil Reading Answers with explanations (5-8)

 

Type of question: Matching sentence endings

 

In this question type, you will be given incomplete sentences, and you will have to complete the end of the sentence by selecting suitable words or phrases from the given list. 
 

How to best answer the question
 

  • To learn more about the context, run through these unfinished sentences. 
  • In each sentence, recognise the keywords Look for the keywords on your list of options. 
  • Verify the context and check if a word flows over from sentence to sentence. 
  • Finalise your answers 

 

5. C

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph C: ‘Humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it, meaning that the soil gradually becomes less fertile.’
 

Explanation

According to the paragraph, in modern agriculture, humans tend to remove unused parts of harvested crops instead of returning them to the soil to enrich them. This means the soil becomes less fertile and is not replenished with the necessary nutrients. 


 

6. E

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph D: ‘Farmers have been putting this synthetic fertiliser on their fields ever since.’
 

Explanation

As per the above passage, synthetic fertiliser revolutionised agriculture and allowed farmers to increase crop yields dramatically. However, the indiscriminate use of synthetic fertilisers has had unintended consequences, including soil acidification and nutrient depletion. 


 

7. A

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph E: ‘When they applied Floris’s mix to the desert-like test plots, a good crop of plants emerged that were not just healthy at the surface but had roots strong enough to pierce dirt as hard as a rock.’

 

Explanation

As stated by the paragraph, the resulting plants were healthy at the surface, and their roots were strong enough to penetrate even the hardest of soils. This highlights the incredible potential for innovative soil management practices to improve soil health and productivity. 


 

8. D

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph G: ‘Several researchers are agitating for the immediate creation of protected zones for endangered soils.’
 

Explanation

According to Pamela Chasek at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada, we need to find ways to present the issue of soil degradation in a way that resonates with governments and the wider public. One possible solution is the concept of "zero net soil degradation," which emphasises the need to prevent further damage to our soil and work towards restoring degraded soil to its natural health. 

Questions and Answers 9-13
  • Reading Passage 2 has seven paragraphs, A-G.
  • Which section contains the following information?
  • Write the correct letter, A-G, 9-13 on your answer sheet.

Note: You can use any letter more than once.


 

9.  A reference to one person’s motivation for a soil-improvement project

 

10.   An explanation of how soil stayed healthy before the development of farming
 

11.   Examples of different ways of collecting information on soil degradation
 

12.   A suggestion for a way of keeping some types of soil safe in the near future
 

13.   A reason why it is difficult to provide an overview of soil degradation

 

Saving the Soil Reading Answers with Explanations (9-13)


 

Type of questions: Matching Information
 

Matching information is very similar to the Matching Features task type. In this task, you will be given statements that match the passage's correct paragraph. The statements can be descriptions, summaries, facts or explanations of different paragraphs. 
 

How to best answer the questions
 

  • Read the following set of statements and identify your keywords. 
  • Get an idea of the topic to be discussed in each paragraph by taking a look at this passage. 
  • Search the keywords of a passage to find references Assess the context and write down your answers

 

9. E

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph E: ‘One of the people looking for a solution to his problem is Pius Floris, who started out running a tree-care business in the Netherlands and now advises some of the world’s topsoil scientists.’

 

Explanation

As per the paragraph, one farmer came to this realisation and has since developed a unique cocktail of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and humus to nourish the soil and promote the growth of his trees. By prioritising soil health, he has ensured his land's long-term productivity and crops' health.


 

10. C

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph C: ‘Humans tend not to return unused parts of harvested crops directly to the soil to enrich it, meaning that the soil gradually becomes less fertile.’

 

Explanation

According to the reference, farmers developed strategies to combat this problem, such as regularly varying the types of crops grown or leaving fields uncultivated for a season to allow the soil to rest and replenish its nutrients. 


 

11. Ask Writer

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph F: ‘Researchers from nine countries are working together to create a map linked to a database that can be fed measurements from field surveys, drone surveys, satellite imagery, lad analyses, and so on to provide real-time data on the state of the soil.’

 

Explanation

As per the paragraph, researchers from different countries are collaborating to develop a map that is linked to a database. The database can be fed with various measurements from field surveys, drone surveys, satellite imagery, lab analyses, and more to provide real-time data on the soil's current state. This valuable data can help policymakers, farmers, and researchers make informed decisions about managing and protecting the world's soil resources.


 

12. G

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph G: ‘We need ways of presenting the problem that brings it home to governments and the wider public, says Pamela Chasek at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada.’

 

Explanation

Pamela Chasek and her colleagues have proposed an ambitious goal of achieving 'zero net land degradation.' This goal emphasises the need to prevent further land degradation while simultaneously working to restore degraded land to a healthy state. Achieving this goal will require a collaborative effort from governments, farmers, and researchers to promote sustainable land management practices, protect biodiversity, and ensure food security for future generations. 


 

13. F

 

Reference:

 

From paragraph F: ‘He came to realise that the best way to ensure his trees flourished was to take care of the soil and has developed a cocktail of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and humus to do this.’
 

Explanation:

To address soil-related issues on a global scale, we first need to comprehensively understand the types of soil that exist and their challenges. However, this is no easy task. One major obstacle is the lack of an agreed-upon international system for classifying soil. 


The IELTS reading practice test emphasizes the importance of saving the soil. It highlights challenges and offers tips for achieving a good score. Protecting the soil is crucial for sustainability and future generations. 
 

For more information, you can visit our LeapScholar team as well.

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FAQs

Q. What are good tips/practices for IELTS Reading preparation?

A. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the IELTS Reading test:

1. Familiarise yourself with the test format
2. Build your vocabulary
3. Practice reading under time pressure
4. Develop skimming and scanning skills
5. Learn how to identify question types
6. Take practice tests

Q. What is the minimum preparation time required for the IELTS Reading test?

A. The minimum preparation time required for the IELTS Reading test varies depending on the individual. It is recommended that test-takers spend at least 3-4 weeks preparing for the test. However, the amount of time needed may be more or less depending on the individual's current reading level and familiarity with the English language.

Q. How can I score better on my IELTS Reading test?

A. To score better on your IELTS Reading test, there are certain strategies that you can follow. Some of these include regular practice, building your vocabulary, and developing skimming and scanning skills. Additionally, it is important to familiarize yourself with the test format, learn how to identify question types and take practice tests. By doing so, you can improve your speed and accuracy in answering questions, as well as your overall comprehension of the passages. 

Q. Is the IELTS Reading test difficult to score?

A. The difficulty level of the IELTS Reading test may vary depending on the individual's reading skills and familiarity with the English language. However, with sufficient preparation, regular practice, and a good understanding of the test format and question types, the test-taker can score well on the IELTS Reading test. It is important to develop effective reading strategies such as skimming and scanning, identifying keywords, and managing time effectively to improve speed and accuracy in answering questions.

Q. How can I answer multiple choice questions for the IELTS Reading test?

A. To answer multiple choice questions for the IELTS Reading test, it is essential to read the questions and answer choices carefully. Skim through the passage to get an idea of the topic and locate the relevant information. Try to eliminate the incorrect options, and pay attention to the details in the question and answer choices. It's important to choose the best answer option, even if more than one option seems correct. Remember to stick to the word limit and write the answer on the answer sheet accurately. 

Q. Can I exceed the word limit for the IELTS Reading test?

A. In the IELTS Reading test, you are required to write your answers within a specific word limit. It's important to carefully read the instructions for each question and follow the word limit guidelines. Exceeding the word limit can result in a lower score, as you may lose points for not following the instructions.

Q. Should I first read the passage or questions for my IELTS Reading test?

A. Whether to read the passage or the questions first for the IELTS Reading test is a personal preference. Some prefer to read the questions first, while others prefer to read the passage first. It's important to practice and develop your test-taking strategy.

Q. What are the criteria for determining the IELTS Reading score?

A. The IELTS Reading test is scored on a band scale of 0-9 based on the number of correct answers. The score of the reading section is an average of the band scores for each passage. It is determined by criteria such as Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. The overall score ranges from 0 to 9.

Q. Are spelling mistakes penalised for the IELTS Reading test?

A. Yes, spelling mistakes are penalised in the IELTS Reading test. Incorrect spelling will be marked as incorrect, even if the answer is otherwise correct. It is important to check your spelling before writing your answers on the answer sheet. However, minor spelling errors that do not affect the word's meaning may not be penalised.

Q. Is grammar necessary for the IELTS Reading test?

A. Yes, grammar is necessary for the IELTS Reading test. The test measures your ability to read and understand complex texts in English. A good understanding of grammar is essential to comprehend the text and answer the questions accurately. Your use of grammatical structures is also evaluated in the Grammatical Range and Accuracy criterion, contributing to your final score.

Q. How can I improve my comprehension skills for the IELTS Reading test?

A. To improve your comprehension skills for the IELTS Reading test, you can practice reading academic texts, skimming and scanning, improving your vocabulary, taking practice tests, and managing your time effectively. These tips will help you get used to the style and vocabulary of academic writing, save time, understand unfamiliar words, get familiar with the test format and types of questions, and allocate enough time for each passage and question.