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Soil & Land Management Agriscience Applications. By: Johnny M. Jessup Agriculture Instructor/FFA Advisor. What is Soil?. Is the top layer of the Earth’s surface suitable for the growth of plant life. The Soil Profile. Soil Horizon

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Soil land management agriscience applications l.jpg

Soil & Land ManagementAgriscience Applications

By: Johnny M. Jessup

Agriculture Instructor/FFA Advisor

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What is Soil?

  • Is the top layer of the Earth’s surface suitable for the growth of plant life.

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The Soil Profile

  • Soil Horizon

    • They are the layers of the different types of soil found at different depths in soil profile.

  • Soil Profile

    • A vertical section through the soil extending into the unweathered parent materials and exposing all the horizons.

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Master Horizons

  • What are the Master Horizons?

    • The are A, B and C horizons are known as the master horizons. They are a part of a system for naming soil horizons in which each layer is identified by a code O, A, E, B, C and R.

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  • The O Horizon

    • The organic layer made of wholly or partially decayed plant material and animal debris.

    • Normally found in a forest with fallen leaves, branches and other debris.

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  • The A Horizon

    • Usually called the topsoil.

    • Surface layer of soil for judging purposes.

    • Usually contains more organic matter.

    • Somewhat darker in color.

    • Provides the best environment for the growth of plant roots, microorganisms and other life.

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  • The E Horizon

    • This is the zone of the greatest leaching of clay, chemicals and organic matter.

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  • The B Horizon

    • Subsurface layer of soil for judging purposes.

      • Called the subsoil.

    • Called the zone of accumulation where chemicals leached out of the A horizon.

      • Reason why most subsoil has an increase in clay content.

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  • The C Horizon

    • Called the parent material.

    • Lacks the properties of the A and B horizon.

    • Less touched by soil forming processes.

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  • The R Horizon-

    • Is the underlying bedrock such as the limestone, sandstone, and or granite.

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Soil Texture

  • Refers to the size of soil particles.

  • Which are:

    • Sand (Large)

    • Silt (Medium)

    • Clay (Small)

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Soil Texture - Sand

  • Is the largest of the soil particles.

  • Individual particles can be seen with the naked eye.

  • Sandy soils have problems holding enough water for good plant growth.

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Soil Texture - Sand

  • Sand is also gritty to the touch.

  • Sand grains will not stick to each other.

  • Four types of sand grains are….

    • Very coarse sand

    • Coarse sand

    • Medium sand

    • Fine Sand

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Soil Texture - Silt

  • Intermediate or medium sized soil particles.

    • But can’t be seen with the naked eye.

  • Is the best soil as it has the ability to hold large amounts of water in a form plants can use.

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Soil Texture - Clay

  • The smallest of soil particles.

  • Clayey hold lots of water, but they….

    • May be airtight.

    • Infertile for root growth.

    • Associated with wet soils.

  • Clay will hold more plant nutrients than any other soil particle.

  • Clay particles stick to one another.

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Textural Classes

  • There are 12 textural classes.

  • Represented on the Soil Texture Triangle.

  • Textural class determined by the percentage of sand, silt, & clay.

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Soil Structure

  • Refers to the way soil particles cluster together to form soil units or aggregates, while leaving pore space to….

    • Store air.

    • Store water.

    • Store nutrients.

    • Allow root penetration.

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Types of Soil Structures

  • There are five types of soil structures.

  • They are:

    • Single grain

    • Granular

    • Platy

    • Blocky

    • Prismatic

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Soil Structure – Single Grain

  • Associated with sandy soils.

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Soil Structure - Granular

  • Particles cling together to form rounded aggregates.

  • Very desirable for all soil uses.

  • It is commonly found in A horizons.

  • Peds are small usually between 1 to 10 millimeters

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Soil Structure - Platy

  • Usually found in E horizons.

  • Large, thin peds.

  • Plate-like & arranged in overlapping horizontal layers.

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Soil Structure - Blocky

  • Particles cling together in angular aggregates.

  • Typical of soils with high clay content.

  • Typical of B horizons.

  • Peds are large about 5 to 50 millimeters

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Soil Structure - Massive

  • Soil has no visible structure.

  • Hard to break apart & appears in very large clods.

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Land Capability Maps

  • Based on the physical, chemical, and topographical aspects of the land.

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Land Capability Classes

  • Assigning a number to land.

  • Eight classes used.

  • I to VIII with I having the best arability.

  • Class I to IV can be cultivated.

  • V to VIII tend to have high slope or are low & wet.

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Land Capability Classes

  • Class I - Very good land.

    • Very few limitations.

    • Deep soil and nearly level.

    • Can be cropped every year as long as land is taken care of.

  • Class II - Good land

    • Has deep soil.

    • May require moderate attention to conservation practices.

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Land Capability Classes

  • Class III - moderately good land.

    • Crops must be more carefully selected.

    • Often gently sloping hills.

    • Terraces and stripcropping are more often used.

  • Class IV - fairly good land.

    • Lowest class cultivated.

    • On hills with more slope than class III.

  • Class V - Unsuited for cultivation.

    • Can be used for pasture crops and cattle grazing, hay crops or tree farming.

    • Often used for wildlife or recreation areas.

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Land Capability Classes

  • Class VI - Not suited for row crops.

    • Too much slope.

    • Usually damaged by erosion with gullies.

    • Can be used for trees, wildlife habitat, and recreation.

  • Class VII - Highly unsuited for cultivation.

    • Has severe limitations.

    • Best used for planting trees.

    • Steeply sloping.

    • Large rock surfaces and boulders may be found.

    • Very little soil present.

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Class VIII

  • Cannot be used for row crops or other crops.

  • Often lowland covered with water.

  • Soil maybe wet or high in clay.

  • Best suited for wildlife & recreation.

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Soil Erosion

  • Can be stopped and/or reduced by good soil management.

  • Management practices that reduce soil erosion increase water absorption and retention.

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Types of Erosion

  • Sheet erosion

    • Removal of layers of soil from the land into streams.

  • Gully erosion

    • Soil removal that leaves trenches.

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Soil Conservation Methods

  • Reduce rain drop impact.

  • Reducing/slowing the speed of the wind or water movement across the land.

  • Securing soil with plant roots.

  • Increasing absorption of water.

  • Carrying run-off water safely away.

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Cover crops


Conservation tillage

Contour practices

Strip cropping

Crop rotation

Add organic matter

Liming and fertilizer

Grass waterways


Avoid overgrazing

Use a conservation plan

Recommended Practices

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Recommended Practices – No Till

  • Cropping technique used to reduce soil erosion.

    • Crops are planted directly into the residue of a previous crop without plowing or disking

    • Very effective erosion control.

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Recommended Practices – Conventional Tillage

  • Uses tillage system that disturbs the soil surface by….

    • Plowing

    • Disking

    • Harrowing

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Recommended Practices – Conservation Tillage

  • Intermediate tillage system between conventional & no-till.

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Soil Enhancement - Fertilizer

  • Fertilizer

    • To add nutrients to the soil.

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Soil Enhancement - Lime

  • Using as an amendment to raise soil pH.

    • Increases availability of nutrients.

  • Example:

    • If soil pH is 5.5, lime may be added to raise soil pH to a more acceptable 7.0 level.

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  • Soil & Water Conservation District

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service

    • Formerly the Soil Conservation Service

  • Farm Service Agency

    • Formerly the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service

  • Environmental Protection Agency

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What do these agencies do?

  • Provide advice.

  • Technical assistance.

  • Funds to assist land owners with soil & water conservation.

  • Monitor ground water quality.

  • Enforce point & nonpoint pollution laws.

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Careers Needing a Bachelor’s Degree

  • Soil Scientist

    • Classify soil according to the most appropriate use.

  • Soil Conservationist

    • Assist landowners in implementing best land use practices.

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Careers Not Needing a Bachelor’s Degree

  • Soil Technician

    • Uses soil auger/soil tube to take soil samples and do field work.

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Designed By:

  • Johnny M. Jessup, FFA Advisor

    • Hobbton High School