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Soils/ Soil & Water Relationships. The top few inches of the earth’s surface that supports plant growth. Formed from parent material (rocks and minerals) by a process known as weathering. Productivity can be lost by soil degradation, such as erosion and pollution. Soil.

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The top few inches of the earth’s surface that supports plant growth.

Formed from parent material (rocks and minerals) by a process known as weathering.

Productivity can be lost by soil degradation, such as erosion and pollution.

Soil
four principal components of soil
Four Principal Components of Soil

25% water

25% air

40-45% minerals

5-10% organic matter

Organic matter is material made from living or once living material.

soil formation

Soil is formed from parent material through a process called weathering.

  • Types of weathering are physical (mechanical) and chemical.
  • Mechanical/physical:
      • Plants & animals
      • Ice wedging
  • Chemical
      • water
      • Acids
      • oxygen
Soil Formation
factors that affect soil formation

Climate

Living organisms

Parent material

Time

How the soil weathered

Topography (the lay of the land)

Factors that affect soil formation
soil particles separates

Soil has three particle sizes:

sand – the largest

silt - medium

clay – the smallest

Soil Particles (separates)
soil texture

Soil texture is the relative percentage of sand, silt, and clay in a soil sample.

There are 12 soil textures.

Different plants prefer different soil textures.

Different textures have different relationships with water depending on the percentage of particles making up the soil.

Scientists use the soil textural triangle to determine the soil’s texture.

Soil Texture
weathering results in particles

Sedentary soils are weathered from large patches of bedrock, so they remain in place and don’t really move.

Transported soils occur when particles are transported.

colluvial- moved by gravity (landslide, mudslide)

alluvial- moved by water (Delta, flood plains)

aeolian- moved by wind

glacial till- particles moved by glaciers

Weathering results in particles
organic matter humus

OM comes from living matter.

Organic matter/humus

Dark colored soils indicate greater amounts of OM.

Benefits of OM in soil:

Makes soil porous.

Adds N and other nutrients to soil.

Helps hold water.

Furnishes food for living organisms.

Minimizes leaching.

Stabilizes soil structure.

Examples of living contributions to soil:

Roots

Algae

Fungi

Small animals

Insects

Slugs

Snails

Worms

Snakes

reptiles

Examples of non-living contributions to soil:

Peat moss

Leaf remnants

Compost

Grass clippings

Saw dust

manure

the soil profile has at least 4 horizons or layers
The soil profile has at least 4 horizons or layers.

*Leaching: when materials move through the soil profile; often materials like chemicals and pollutants are carried through the soil profile by water.

soil structure soil particles stick together to make 4 types of aggregates
Soil structure: soil particles stick together to make 4 types of aggregates
  • Granular
  • Platy
  • Blocky
  • Prismatic/columnar
  • Wedge
water below the surface

Surface material and soil texture will determine how rapidly water flows through the soil profile.

Water that fills up pore spaces between soil particles accumulate below the earth’s surface to create groundwater.

Porosity is a measure of the amount of open space compared to the total volume of rock/soil.

The ability of material to transmit fluid is permeability.

Sandy soils have a greater porosity and therefore a greater permeability than clay and silt. Clay is the least porous and permeable.

Water below the surface
the water table

Just below the surface is the zone of aeration.

Below that is zone of saturation.

Below the zone of saturation is the groundwater.

The upper boundary of the zone of saturation is the water table.

The depth of the groundwater/level of the water table varies with the precipitation and climate as well as what gets pumped out and used.

It is essential that the amount pumped out does not exceed nature’s ability to recharge the water source.

The Water table
aquifers

An aquifer is any underground, water-bearing layer that groundwater can flow through.

Aquitards confine the water.

Aquifers