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UBC Farm Soil Workshop Series

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Presentation on theme: "UBC Farm Soil Workshop Series"— Presentation transcript:

1 UBC Farm Soil Workshop Series
Class 1: Introduction to Soil Formation, Texture and Structure Chris Thoreau February 11, 2012

2 What is Soil? Soil is a dynamic composition of: Minerals
Water and its solutions Organic matter (detritus) Air and other gas mixtures... ...which, through interacting with each other and with plant roots, allows for the growth of photosynthesizing terrestrial plants …and acts as a habitat for micro- and macro- organisms …which also interact with plants and plant roots Or…

3 What is Soil? Physical Aspects: Minerals (from rocks) Organic Matter
Sand Silt Clay and Colloids Organic Matter Plants and Roots Detritus (decaying organic matter) Animal waste (including microbes) Pore Space Air/Gases Water

4 Soil is the Mother of All Terrestrial Life
What is Soil? Soil is the Mother of All Terrestrial Life

5 What is Soil? Conceptual Aspects: Habitat Micro-organisms
Bacteria, Fungi – both good and bad Viruses Macro-organisms Worms, Arthropods, Detrivores and Predators Plants Small Mammals Birds

6 What is Soil? Conceptual Aspects: Provider to plant life
Rooting substrate Water holding and release Nutrient supply and reserve Heat sink and release Soil gases Symbionts Bacterial and fungal Insects

7 What is Soil? Habitat Providing for plant life
What happens when we disturb this habitat? At micro and macro level? What happens when we make additions to, or removals from, this habitat? Carbon:Nitrogen ratio? How do soil organisms and plants respond? Nutrient loss or gain? Providing for plant life What are the short-term and long-term results? Are we providing for the soil as well as the plants? What is the difference?

8 What is Soil? As a habitat we need to treat soil like a living organism, which requires: Food Organic Matter and Minerals Water Irrigation and Natural Air Shelter Cover crops, Cash Crops, Mulches General tender loving care…

9 What is Soil? Questions?

10 Where does soil come from?
Soil Formation Where does soil come from? Soil comes (mostly) from the weathering of rocks over long periods of time – a process highly influenced by biological organisms, topography, aspect and human activity…

11 5 Factors of Soil Formation
1. Parent Material 2. Climate 3. Biota 4. Topography 5. Time

12 5 Factors of Soil Formation
1. Parent Material Transported Gravity - Colluvial Water – Alluvial, Marine, and Lacustrine Wind – Eolian Ice – Glacial Cumulose Due to plant life and anaerobic conditions High water table Peat and muck soils Residual In situ; long periods of weathering

13 5 Factors of Soil Formation
2. Climate Temperature and rainfall are major factors Affect intensity of weathering Increased T and precipitation accelerate weathering 3. Biota Plants influence organic matter Arthropods and worms mix soil; add to OM Small mammals also mix soil

14 5 Factors of Soil Formation
4. Topography Slope influences soil development Water infiltration rate Surface runoff Vegetation Aspect North and South slopes develop differently Elevation Climate changes with altitude

15 5 Factors of Soil Formation
5. Time Often noted as most important soil formation factor Our soils in Lower Mainland are relatively young Since last ice age 10-12,000 years ago

16 Weathering of Rocks Primary Minerals  Sand and Silt
Formed at high T and P (at depth); anaerobic conditions Physically and chemically formed Quartz, Feldspars, Micas, Secondary Minerals  Clay Come from primary minerals Formed at low T and P (at surface) with Oxygen present Mostly chemically formed Silicate Clays

17 Weathering of Rocks Weathering of Rocks Physical Chemical 1 Chemical 2

18 Soil Formation Processes
Additions Losses Transformations Translocations

19 Soil Horizons

20 Soil Horizons Organic (O) Horizon A Horizon B Horizon C Horizon
High in organic residue from plant drop A Horizon Mineral component plus OM Most fertile part of soil; location of much root activity B Horizon Subsoil A horizon leaches here C Horizon Little influence by soil-forming processes

21 Soil Orders of Canada In a given area, over the period of soil formation, environmental conditions cause a certain set of soil processes to occur, which leads to a distinctive set of soil horizons at the time we observe the soil.  These soil horizons are the basis for classifying the soil in the Canadian System of Soil Classification. 

22 Soil Orders of Canada

23 Soil Orders of Canada Podzol Gleysol Chernozem Brunisol Luvisol
Organic Solonetzic Vertisol Regosol Cryosol

24 Podzol Soil Video here

25 Soil Formation Any questions?
Check follow up readings and websites for more detailed information UBC Virtual Soil Science Soil Orders of Canada Videos Canadian System of Soil Classification

26 Soil Texture Soil texture refers to the relative amount of sand, silt, and clay found in a soil The mixture of these components affects the feel of the soil as well as water, nutrient, and pore space interactions

27 Soil Texture Mineral Components Sand Silt Clay

28 Soil Texture Mineral ratios determine soil texture

29 Soil Texture Sand Largest soil mineral particles (.02 – 2 mm)
Formed greatly from physical processes Spherical/erratic in shape Sand = little rocks Larger pore spaces Good drainage Does not hold a charge Difficult to compact

30 Soil Texture Silt Size between sand and clay (.002 - .02 mm)
Usually physically formed out of sand Hold and releases water well Flat or round in shape Holds very little charge Feels soapy Carried in moving water

31 Soil Texture Clay Smallest soil mineral particle (< .002 mm)
Holds water very well Holds strong negative charge for mineral adsorption Susceptible to compaction Platy-/flat-shaped particles Various lattice structures

32 Soil Texture Clay Clays are categorized by their layer structure
Understanding structure of clay is important for: Compaction Water holding Cation adsorption Soil cultivation Clays are categorized by their layer structure Relationship of Si-tetrahedral and Al-octahedral sheets 2:1; 1:1; 4:1; 5:2

33 Soil Texture 2:1 Clay Shrink and swell 1:1 Clay No change

34 Soil Texture Shrink and Swell of Clay
Interlayer space expands with increasing water content in soil Space contracts as water is removed Clay can crack when it shrinks

35 Soil Texture Why is Texture Important?
Water Infiltration Water Storage Fertility Aeration Trafficability Soil texture knowledge is the key to developing an overall soil maintenance and improvement plan

36 Soil Texture Notes: We do not change the texture of soils
We can change the characteristics of certain textured soils We change soil characteristics through: Additions of organic matter In soil and on top of soil Cultivation practices Raised beds

37 Soil Texture Attributes of Different Soil Textures Property Sand Silt
Clay Water Holding Poor Medium to high High Nutrient Holding Medium to High Aeration Good Medium

38 Soil Texture We can determine the texture of the soil by feeling it
Ribbon test Ball test Jar test Laboratory tests give more accurate results

39 Soil Texture Texture Questions?

40 Soil Structure Soil Structure: How the soil fits together
Primary particles are arranged into secondary particles called aggregates (or peds)

41 Soil Structure Why is Structure Important? Pore space
Air and water movement Rooting space Nutrient storage and release Contributes to soil resilience Cultivation Erosion resistance

42 Flocculation + Cementation = Aggregation
Soil Structure How does aggregate formation occur? Flocculation + Cementation = Aggregation Flocculation: Primary pulled close together (into flocs) by attractive forces (electrostatic forces, H bonding) Cementation Primary particles held together by cementing agents Carbonates; clays; OM; Oxides

43 Soil Structure

44 Soil Structure Soil Aggregates are classified by their shape

45 Soil Structure Ideal structure: Spheroidal Typical in A Horizon
Rounded; loose Granular (porous) or Crumb (very porous) Greatly affected by soil management OR mismanagement Improved with OM additions and microbial activity

46 Soil Structure Soil structure is particularly important in providing adequate pore space for: Root growth Water movement Gas exchange Microbial activity Macrobial activity

47 Soil Structure Structure can be easily observed in the soil and structural stability, or aggregate stability, can be measured in the lab Structure can be improved, to a point, by soil cultivation. Soil cultivation is also a great way to destroy structure

48 Soil Consistency Related to texture
Very important when considering soil cultivation Dependent on: Texture/clay content Clay type Soil water content

49 Soil Consistency

50 Soil Consistency Cultivating soil when too dry
Breaks aggregates into small pieces De-aggregates Can result in dust Very damaging to soil structure The drier the soil – the more it acts like powder

51 Soil Consistency Cultivating soil when too wet Compaction
Where to start?! Compaction Risk and depth of compaction increases in wet soil

52 Soil Consistency Cultivating soil when too wet
The wetter the soil - the more it acts like water

53 Soil Consistency

54 Soil Consistency Soil consistency, determined greatly by water content and percentage of clay, plays a major role in when soil can be cultivated! Not as crucial when hand digging…

55 Good Soil Structure We promote good structure in soil by:
Minimizing cultivation (especially in sandy soils) and using appropriate cultivation methods Avoiding compaction (especially in clay soils) No tractor in wet soil! Especially careful with clays Cultivating at proper soil consistency Adding various types of organic matter regularly Maintaining a proper pH Promoting microbial life – especially fungi Always keeping the soil covered Preferably by crops

56 Soil Structure and Texture
Soil texture influences soil’s ability to aggregate Clay soils aggregate more readily Sandy soils have les stable aggregates Organic matter, plant growth, and microbial activity all contribute to aggregate stability

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