What is soil
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What Is Soil?. Image: T. Loynachan. Soils-1-1. Soil is a layer of unconsolidated material on the Earth’s surface in which plants grow. Image: Louis Maher. Image: Professional Soil Classifiers Assoc. of Alabama. Soils-1-2.

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What is soil

What Is Soil?

Image: T. Loynachan

Soils-1-1


Soil is a layer of unconsolidated material on the earth s surface in which plants grow

Soil is a layer of unconsolidated material on the Earth’s surface in which plants grow.

Image: Louis Maher

Image: Professional Soil Classifiers Assoc. of Alabama

Soils-1-2


Soil is a mixture of mineral grains from the Earth, decomposing organic matter, and voids filled with air or water.

Image: Professional Soil Classifiers Assoc. of Alabama

Soils-1-3


Soil is the Earth material that links living things (biosphere), air (atmosphere), water (hydrosphere), and the solid Earth (geosphere).

Image: Bruce Molnia

Soils-1-4


A soil profile is an exposure from the surface downward through a soil to its parent material

A soil profile is an exposure from the surface downward through a soil to its parent material.

Image: Martin Miller

Image: NRCS

Soils-3-1


Soil profiles generally expose three layers or soil horizons

Soil profiles generally expose three layers or soil horizons.

Image: National Cooperative Soil Survey

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The upper “A” horizon contains organic matter mixed with mineral particles. Percolating water dissolves and removes some mineral constituents from the “A” horizon.

Horizon “A”

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Some constituents dissolved from the a horizon are deposited below in the b horizon

Some constituents dissolved from the “A” horizon are deposited below in the “B” horizon.

Horizon “A”

Horizon “B”

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The c horizon is the lower soil layer developed on the underlying parent material

The “C” horizon is the lower soil layer developed on the underlying parent material.

Horizon “A”

Horizon “B”

Horizon “C”

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A mature soil profile with well developed A, B, and C horizons takes hundreds to thousands of years to develop.

Horizon “A”

Horizon “B”

Horizon “C”

Image: NRCS

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Physical weathering breaks rocks into small mineral particles that accumulate on the Earth’s surface.

Images: Martin Miller, NRCS

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How soils form

How Soils Form particles that accumulate on the Earth’s surface.

Image: T. Loynachan

Soils-2-1


Chemical weathering dissolves and changes minerals that have accumulated on the earth s surface

Chemical weathering dissolves and changes minerals that have accumulated on the Earth’s surface.

Images: National Cooperative Soil Survey, University of Nebraska

Soils-2-3


Decomposing organic material from plants and animals mixes with accumulated soil minerals
Decomposing organic material from plants and animals mixes with accumulated soil minerals.

Images: NRCS, Soil Classifiers of Michigan

Soils-2-4



Continued physical and chemical changes over hundreds to thousands of years produce layers called soil horizons.

Image: National Cooperative Soil Survey

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