Using the land

Ground and soil

When we walk, our feet are on the ground (= the general word for the surface of the earth). For the top part of the ground where grass and flowers grow, we use the word soil.
There were no seats in the park, so we had to sit on the ground.
The ground is very hard because it hasn’t rained for weeks.
Plants don’t grow very well here because the soil is too dry.

Above the ground

Some land is used for parks and gardens where we often grow trees and plants (= living things with roots and leaves, smaller than trees which grow in the soil). First, you plant the tree or plant (= put the tree or plant in the ground), then you must water it (= give it water).

Land in the country is often used for agriculture/farming. Some farms concentrate on dairy produce such as milk, butter and cheese. Other farms keep animals which are slaughtered (= killed) and sold for their meat, e.g. cows and lambs. Some farms use the land to grow fruit, e.g. apples and pears; vegetables, e.g. potatoes and carrots; and cereals, e.g. wheat, maize and barley. When they are ready, farmers pick the fruit and harvest the other crops (= take the other crops from the ground). This period is called the harvest. We use the word crop(s) as a general word to describe all the things that are grown to be eaten:
In parts of Africa the crops failed because of the drought (= long period without rain).
We had a wonderful crop of barley last year.

Below the ground

One of the main activities below the ground is mining. This is the process of extracting (fml) (= removing or taking out) different materials, e.g. coal or gold, from below the ground. We call the place a mine, e.g. a coal mine or gold mine.

These are some of the metals we take out of the ground:

gold: a valuable yellow metal used to make coins and jewellery
silver: a valuable whitish metal used to make coins and jewellery
iron: usually takes the form of a hard dark-grey metal, and is used in building and to make tools.
It is also used to make steel
tin: a softer metal often used to cover other metals
copper: a soft reddish metal; it permits heat and electricity to pass through it easily