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Please get your samples off the back table (cup and bottle) Soil Notes.

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Presentation on theme: "Please get your samples off the back table (cup and bottle) Soil Notes."— Presentation transcript:

1 Please get your samples off the back table (cup and bottle) Soil Notes

2 What is soil? Soil – relatively thin surface layer of the Earth’s crust consisting of mineral and organic matter that is affected by agents such as weather, wind, water, and organisms.

3 Composition – 4 Distinct Parts Mineral particles (45% of “typical” soil) Organic matter (about 5%) Water (about 25%) Air (about 25%)

4 Importance Organisms, mainly microorganisms, inhabit the soil & depend on it for shelter, food & water. Plants anchor themselves into the soil, and get their nutrients and water. Terrestrial plants could not survive without soil, therefore, humans could not exist without soil either.

5 Parent Material The rock that has slowly broken down into smaller particles by biological, chemical, and physical weathering. To form 2.5 cm (1 in.) it may take from 200-1000 years. Soil Formation

6 Physical Weathering Ex. erosion (wind, water, ice, etc.)

7 Chemical Weathering A plant’s roots or animal cells undergo cell respiration and the CO 2 produced diffuses into soil, reacts with H 2 O & forms carbonic acid (H 2 CO 3 ). This eats parts of the rock away.

8 Renewable or Not? Decomposition produces new soil But, in the tropical rainforests, all of the nutrients are caught in the trees and when cut down & burned the soil cannot get the nutrients back.

9 SOIL: A RENEWABLE RESOURCE Soil is a slowly renewed resource that provides most of the nutrients needed for plant growth and also helps purify water. Soil formation begins when bedrock is broken down by physical, chemical and biological processes called weathering. Mature soils, or soils that have developed over a long time are arranged in a series of horizontal layers called soil horizons.

10 Because soil formation varies from location to location… In order to classify soils (understand where they would be most useful), we must look at the horizons and the properties.

11 Soil Horizons

12 Organic Layer (O-horizon) The uppermost layer; it is rich in organic material. Plant litter accumulates in the O- horizon and gradually decays. In desert soils the O-horizon is completely absent, but in certain organically rich soils it may be the dominant layer.

13 In some acidic soils… E horizon: zone of leaching.

14 Topsoil (A-horizon) It is dark and rich in accumulated organic matter and humus. It has a granular texture and is somewhat nutrient-poor due to the loss of many nutrient minerals to deeper layers and by leaching.

15 Subsoil (B-horizon) The light-colored subsoil beneath the A- horizon; it is often a zone of illuviation where nutrient minerals have leached out of the topsoil and litter accumulate. It is typically rich in iron and aluminum compounds and clay.

16 Parent Material (C-horizon) This contains weathered pieces of rock and borders the unweathered solid parent material. Most roots do not go down this deep and it is often saturated with groundwater.


18 Fig. 3-23, p. 68 Fern Mature soil Honey fungus Root system Oak tree Bacteria Lords and ladies Fungus Actinomycetes Nematode Pseudoscorpion Mite Regolith Young soil Immature soil Bedrock Rock fragments Moss and lichen Organic debris builds up Grasses and small shrubs Mole Dog violet Wood sorrel Earthworm Millipede O horizon Leaf litter A horizon Topsoil B horizon Subsoil C horizon Parent material Springtail Red Earth Mite

19 Layers in Mature Soils Infiltration: the downward movement of water through soil. Leaching: dissolving of minerals and organic matter in upper layers carrying them to lower layers. The soil type determines the degree of infiltration and leaching.


21 Fig. 3-24a, p. 69 Mosaic of closely packed pebbles, boulders Weak humus- mineral mixture Dry, brown to reddish-brown with variable accumulations of clay, calcium and carbonate, and soluble salts Alkaline, dark, and rich in humus Clay, calcium compounds Desert Soil (hot, dry climate) Grassland Soil semiarid climate)

22 Fig. 3-24b, p. 69 Tropical Rain Forest Soil (humid, tropical climate) Acidic light-colored humus Iron and aluminum compounds mixed with clay

23 Fig. 3-24b, p. 69 Deciduous Forest Soil (humid, mild climate) Forest litter leaf mold Humus-mineral mixture Light, grayish- brown, silt loam Dark brown firm clay

24 Fig. 3-24b, p. 69 Coniferous Forest Soil (humid, cold climate) Light-colored and acidic Acid litter and humus Humus and iron and aluminum compounds

25 Texture The percentages (by weight) of different sized particles of sand, silt and clay that it contains. Physical Properties:

26 Texture (Cont.) >2mm in diameter = gravel/stones (not actually considered soil because it doesn’t have direct value to plants. 0.05 to 2mm = sand (the largest soil particles) can be seen easily with the eye. 0.002 to 0.05mm = silt – about the size of flour and barely visible with the eye. <.002mm = clay (has the greatest surface value) – only seen under and electronic microscope.

27 Texture To tell the difference in soil, take the soil, moisten it, and rub it between your fingers and thumb. Gritty -has a lot of sand Sticky- high clay content and you should be able to roll it into a clump Silt- smooth, like flour.

28 Porosity How quickly soil drains. Which particle do you like drains better? Sand/Silt/Clay Quick to drain = Quick to dry out

29 Just a question… Where would clay be useful? (a place where we want to keep contaminants in)

30 Permeability The rate at which water and air moves from upper to lower soil layers. It is distances between those spaces. AKA: WHC Water holding Capacity

31 Shrink-Swell Potential Some soils, like clays, swell when H 2 O gets in them, then they dry and crack. This is bad for house foundations, etc.

32 Slope Steep slopes often have little or no soil on them because of gravity. Runoff from precipitation tends to erode the slope also. Moderate slopes and valleys may encourage the formation of deep soils.

33 Depth Some soils are very shallow (like in some places in San Antonio). It can be only two inches of soil and then you hit rock. Other areas can have soil 36 inches deep or more.

34 Color Dark soil is rich with lots of organic matter. Light soil (like sand) is not so rich with very little organic matter.

35 Texture The percentages (by weight) of different sized particles of sand, silt and clay that it contains.


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