Different Types and Characteristics of Soil

joeldgreat By joeldgreat, 11th Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/c3u00j3s/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Soil

Know how soils are formed and the characteristics of each types.

How soils are formed?

Scientists tell us that there were mostly rocks on the earth millions of years ago. Because of some natural forces like wind and water, many rocks broke up. Today, tiny plants that grow on the rocks also contribute to the breaking of rocks. When organisms like plants and animals die, their remains mix with the particles of rocks. Particles of rocks are the mineral part of soil. The remains of dead plants and animals are the organic parts of soil. Organic means that it is coming from living things.

Soil forms layers as it develops

The upper most layer of soil is the top soil. It is generally dark in color and crumbly. It is rich in humus, a black material that comes from the remains of dead organisms. Humus is rich in nutrients, so it makes the topsoil fertile. Top soil can be just a few centimeters or more than a meter thick. Plants grow well on top soil. Beneath the top soil is the subsoil. This layer is light brown. Compared to topsoil, the subsoil has more mineral and less organic particles. Therefore, it is not fertile like topsoil. The bottom layer is the bedrock or parent rock. The parent rock is grayish brown. As it breaks down, it adds to the layers above it.

Kinds of soil

Different mixtures of rock particles and organic particles result in different kinds of soil. Rock particles differ in sizes. Sand has the largest particles. You can see each individual grain of sand. Next in size is silt. The particles of silt are smaller than those of sand but can still be seen. The smallest particles are those of clay. Soils are named according to the amount of the kind of rock particles that they have. A sandy soil contains more sand, a silty soil contains more silt and a clayey soil has more clay. Loam is a soil that contains about equal amounts of sand, silt and clay. Different kinds of soil have different characteristics. Soil differs in color. There are yellow soils and red soils. There are brown soils and black soils. Soils that are dark colored are fertile soil.

Soils differ in smell

While some soils have no smell, some have a foul smell. Others have and earthy smell. A large amount of humus in the soil gives it an earthy smell. Soils differ in texture. Rub a bit of soil between your fingers. If it fells rocky and coarse, then it is sandy soil. If the soil feels smooth and sticky then it is clayey soil.

Soil differ in the amount of space between particles

Sandy soil has big particles and the spaces between particles are big. A silty soil has small particles and the spaces between particles are small. Particles of clay stick together in clumps, leaving no space between particles. The amount of space between particles determines how water can move through the soil and how much water it can hold. When the spaces between the particles are so small, the soil will have little water and air, and tiny organisms cannot live in the soil.


Clay, Kinds Of Soil, Rock Particles, Sand, Silt, Soil Formation, Soil Particles, Soil Structure

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author avatar THABANG
17th Apr 2011 (#)

Take note of this

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author avatar chrysolite
4th Dec 2015 (#)

Thanks for sharing! Great article!

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