Soil Taxonomy

Friday, 30 January, 2009 3:09 PM

Diagnostic Surface Horizons (Epidedons) of Mineral Soils
Epidedon Feature

Diagnostic Subsurface Horizon
Horizon Argillic Feature • Subsurface accumulation of silicate clay via illuviation or in situ weathering. • Clay often found as cutan or clay bridge between sand grains on pore walls and surfaces of structural grouping, hence the name argillans (clay skin).

Mollic • Dark colour associated with accumulation of organic matter (characteristic (>0.6% organic C year-round) and thickness (>25cm) and in grassland soil) softness when dry. • High base saturation (>50%) • Moist =3 months/annum and temperature =5°C to a depth of 50cm. Umbric • Same general characteristic as mollic but base saturation is lower. • Commonly develop under higher rainfall and calcium and magnesium deficient parent material. • Too thin, too light in colour or too low in organic matter to be mollc or umbric. • Hard and massive when dry due to low organic content. • Very black in colour due to high organic matter content (>6% organic C). • >30cm in thickness, light in weight and fluffy. • 20-60cm of organic soil material overlying mineral soil. • In wet area as a layer of peat or muck with a black to dark brown colour and low density. • Human modified mollic-like horizon high in available P. • Organic horizon saturated for less than 30 days per annum. • Similar to Mollic but lower base saturation.

Natric (common • Silicate clay accumulation with >15% in arid or semiexchangeable sodium on the colloidal arid area) complex or by prismatic or columnar soil structure. Kandic • Accumulation of Fe and Al oxides as well as low-activity silicate clay (e.g. kaolinite) i.e. low cation holding capacities.


Melanic (formed from volcanic ash) Histic

Anthropic Folistic Plaggen

Oxic (common • Highly weathered with similar in humid tropics accumulation as kandic. and subtropics) • Very low cation holding capacity, =30cm thick and <10% weathereable minerals in fine fraction. • Physically stable, crumbly and not very sticky. Spodic (illuvial horizon) • Accumulation of colloidal organic matter and Al oxide. • Common in highly leached forest soils of cool humid climate overlying sandy parent material.

Soil Classification Page 1

• Accumulation of carbonate forming white chalklike nodule.9% of global land area. • Some (alluvium and fresh lava flow) are fertile. • Udept. yet high moisture holding capacity and water erosion resistance. • Mature horizons have not yet developed. • Citrus. • Poorly drained and seasonally flooded Entisol in river valleys. vegetable and peanut • Sandy Psamments in Sahara.Soil Moisture Regime (SMR) SMR Aquic Udic Feature Saturated soil in anaerobic condition. • 9. • Rice production in Asian river • Shallow. Australia. • Ochric epidedon. • Most have ochric epidedon with some. • Cementation of materials forming impermeable layer. • Common in cool moist soil of tropical and subtropical highlands. found in mountains from New York to Carolinas. Found in Mediterranean climate with cool moist winter dry summer with long drought. and southeastern US coastal plain. central production in southeastern US. Soil Classification Page 2 .g. warm material. • Soil is very diverse but have very young parent material in common. • Light fluffy soil that is easily tilled. Ustic Aridic Xeric Soil Order Characteristic Sub-order and Distribution Use Entisols (very • Weakly developed soil (in alluvium. • Accumulation of gypsum. Soil moisture intermediate between Udic and Aridic. Excess moisture condition leading to leaching year-round is known as perudic. suitable for Andisols (young soil) • Formed from volcanic ash and cinders in recent geological time hence not highly weathered. and ferrihydrite. anthropic or agic.7% of global land area. along with xeric Xerept in North Africa and eastern China. Soil sufficiently moist year round to meet plant needs. Sombric (illuvial • Dark in colour due to high organic content horizon) and low base saturation. Moist Udands in Japan. • Humid region Udept have only thin surface horizon. • Variable productivity • 16% of total ice-free land. • • • • 0. Inseptisols (young soil) • Beginning (inseption) of the cambic (weakly developed with some colour change) horizon. and mountainous regions. • Wet Aquept along Amazon and the Ganges. young soil) steep rock surface) with little or any profile differentiation. shifting sand. Moist/dry Ustands along Great Rift Valley. Synchronous with volcanic area. medium textured Orthents in rocky valley. Dry soil for more than half the growing season and moist for less than 90 days. Albic (eluvial) Calcic Gypsic Salic Pan • Low in clay and oxides of Fe and Al due to material eluviation. • Accumulation of soluble salt. • Rapid weathering occur to form amorphous silicate e. allophane.

• Presence of natric. • Volcanic glass-rich Vitrands in recent eruption (Mt. usually black or dark brown. only partially decomposed.7% of total land area. • Hard petrocalcic horizon may form from cementation of coarse fragments and soil particles by carbonates. material without permafrost to form one or more Finland. Gelisols (young soil) • Little profile development as cold temperature and frozen conditions retard soil formation. layers of organic soil materials (histil). • Argids (with argillic horizons) in California.e. Taklamakan. environment. • Muck is a black material where decomposition is more complete and highly humified. • Sensitive to overgrazing. • 8. • Presence of argillic horizon as indicator of pluvial past. • Overpumping of water leads to land subsidence due to compression and oxidation. • Shrink-swell properties makes swelling of clay due to alternating wet/dry. • 12. Syria. • Cultivation of xerophytic jojoba. allophane. Vertisols • Main pedogenic mechanism is the shrinking and • 2. salinisation and desertification. New York. • Mining of peat for fuel. • Usterts (moist/dry) and Xererts (xeric) highway or building • >30% sticky. Aridisols • Unsuitable for crop cultivation without irrigation. • Peat is brownish. Canada and Alaska. • Presence of desert varnish (iron and manganese oxide) on pebble surface probably due to algal biological activity. • Hot. Pinatubo and St. calcic. convoluted horizon above permafrost. in India. gypsic and/or salic horizon.6% of global land area.g. • Udert (humd) where wet conditions hardens when dry and is sticky Soil Classification Page 3 . lation due to stable aluminium-humus complex. Louisiana.4% of total land area. resistance. Ireland. Canada. swelling and shrinking clay where wide cracks stay open =3 months due construction difficult. and ferrihydrite. • Evidence of cryoturbation (frost churning) near surface to orient rocks along line of action and form broken. reindeer and • Turbels show cryoturbation. Japan.g. • Aridic ochric epidedon that is light in colour and low in organic content. • Histels in wet environment show • Low plant productivity accumulation of organic material. Turkestan deserts. • Calcids shows carbonate engulfed argillic horizons.• Cold climate Cryands in Canada and Russia. • Dark or even blackish in colour but organic content is to long drought. fibrous remains of plant tissue. • Melanic epidedon and rapid organic matter accumu. • Supports caribou. suitable for intensive agriculture especially in the Pacific rim area e. • Large quantity of clay that not very high (5-6%). Sudan. • Moist/dry Ustands along Great Rift Valley. dry climate Torrands in Mexico and • Little downward translocation. • Found in tundra of Northern Russia. • Agriculture of rice and cranberries under flooded conditions. northern Mexico. • Low-intensity pastoral activity. Histosols • Little profile development due to anaerobic • 1% of global land area. Helens). Ethipia. musk ox. • Presence of permafrost (material layer frozen for more than two consecutive years). Gobi. • Wetland environments except Folists (leaf • Accumulation of partially decomposed organic plant mat accumulation) such as Alasla. • Sahara.

gray to brown ochric or umbric epidedon. • Ochric or umbric epidedon but acidic B horizon with <35% base-satisfied exchanged capacity. and highlands of tropics. Italy. • Repeated actions produce bowl-shaped depressions with deep profile surrounded by soil-thin ridges. • Presence of argillic or natric horizon. hardens when dry and is sticky when wet impedes tillage. • Humult (organic rich) in Hawaii. semiarid tropics and Mediterranean area under native deciduous forest or savanna. • Productive soil with good • Udalfs (humid) in Ohio. • Fluctuating wetness results in iron-rich mottled material called plinthite. organic content and thickness is greater. • Xeralfs (xeric) in central California. • In humid climate.6% of total land area. • 6. • Not as fertile as Alfisols and Mollisols. • Relatively thin. • Sandier Alfisols is easily eroded. northern and eastern California. illuviation to argillic or kandic horizon. • Strongly weathered but less so than Spodosol and Ultisol. • Kazakhstan. bsalt and other calcium. sub Saharan Africa. • Xerults (xeric) in southern Oregon. Aquoll (wet). central Europe. Siberia. • Aqualfs in wet depressions. • Udic Alfisols are acidic -require • Cryalfs (very cold) in Rocky Mountains. eastern Brazil. • Found in cool to hot humid area. Northern cultivation purpose. Europe. eastern India. • Ustolls (moist/dry) from Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada to southern Texas. southwestern Australia. hardwood growth and crop central China. • Easily workable as argillic horizon is non-sticky and presence of Fe and Al oxides. central Spain. presence encourages formation of swelling clay. • Most formed under moist condition in warm to tropical climate. northern China. Udolls (humid). Michigan. clay shrinks and deep wide cracks form and in wet season. soil is not hard when dry. or in subhumid tropical region. southeastern Asia and southern China. • Udert (humd) where wet conditions • Develop from limestone. • Surface has granular or crumb structure due to organic matter and swelling clay abundance.9% of total land area. • Main mechanism is clay mineral weathering. • In dry period. for brickwork. yield. • Udults (humid) in southeastern US. water causes clay to swell. England. • Found in humid tropics close to Oxisols. Alfisols Ultisols Soil Classification Page 4 . • Ustalfs (moist/dry) in Texas. • 8. Washington.not very high (5-6%). • Unlike Vertisol. Paraguay. light coloured leached albic E horizon. and leaching of base-forming cations. • Cereal cultivation • Great Plains of North America contains • Most productive soil. kandic horizon.or minimize crack persistence in eastern magnesium-rich parent material since cation Mississippi and western Alabama. • Xerolls (xeric) in the far west of Great Plains. • 9.5% of total global area. Indiana. • Commonly red or yellow subsurface horizon as evidence of iron oxide accumulation. turns irreversibly into hard ironstone when dry. • Productive commercial softwood and hardwood forests. Ukraine. limestone amendment for south central Canada. Mollisols • Accumulation of calcium rich organic matter largely from dense praire grass root to form mollic epidedon 60-80cm deep. • Phlintite. • Ustults (moist/dry) in semiarid areas with marked dry season (Africa and India). • Under deciduous forest. soft when wet.

• Deep weathering >20m with moderately acidic condition. Udox. vegetable. central and • Moist to wet. ash-coloured eluviated albic horizon with clean quartz sand. for brickwork. non-sticky clay and resist compaction hence high permeability. intensive acid leaching as chief pedogenic activity. Wisconsin. when dry.material called plinthite. cold to temperate regions where eastern Canada. accumulation of Al oxides. • Spodic horizon. • Ochric or umbric epidedons with gradual interhorizon transition. Russia. • Coniferous forest litter low in base cation and high in acid resin (catalyses leaching). • Northern Europe. southern • Occurs also in tropics and subtropics. • Spodic underlies light. • Stable .6% of total land area • Low fertility as presence of Re • South America (Amazon) and Africa (Congo) and Al oxides bind tightly most • Udox (short dry season) in northern Brazil phosphorus needed for plant and Caribbean islands. Soil Classification Page 5 . • Forest habitat Oxisols • 7. • Naturally infertile. Spodosols • Coarse textured. • High in low activity. subsurface accumulation of illuviated material. Michigan and Wisconsin. • Northern Michigan. • Potato growing (with fertilisation) in northern Maine. • Most highly weathered soil forming in hot climate with year round moist conditions under tropical rainforest. • Deep oxic horizon high in clay particle dominated by Fe and Al hydroxides as intense weathering and leaching removes large part of silica.6% of total landmass leaching. growth. • Quick nutrient cycling within the soil hence easily exhausted. • Ustox (hot dry summer) in Brazil south of • Moderate acidity.and fruit growing (with fertilisation) in Florida.easy road and building construction. Alaska. acidic parent materials ready for • 2.