Soil Classification

Last updated: December 18, 2018

What Does Soil Classification Mean?

Soil classification is a way of describing a given plot of soil. Most gardeners choose to work with five different types or classifications of soils: sandy, saline, peat, clay, or silty. Different combinations of air, water, organic matter, and materials result in different soils.

Soil classification is an important first step in gardening because it enables growers to first identify what type of soil they have on hand, and then help them know what improvements they need to make, if any, to easily turn an unproductive lot of land into loam.

Classifying soil also helps gardeners understand what type of plants will grow and thrive in their particular soil.


Maximum Yield Explains Soil Classification

Of the five different classifications of soil, which are determined by how it holds water, how it is managed, and how compact it is, sandy soils have a low water-holding capacity, whereas soils high in clay can have a very high water-holding capacity. The most ideal type of soil is called loamy soil, which is dark in color, drains well, and allows air to move freely around plant roots.

While it is possible to have soil samples professionally assessed to know what kind of plot you’re dealing with, amateur gardeners can simply gather some soil samples in a jar, which they then allow to sit overnight. The sample will automatically separate to display the most dominant type of soil.

Soil classification additionally concerns the grouping of different plots that share the same range of biological, physical, and chemical properties. Contrary to popular belief, soils are actually far more complex than water and air in terms of chemical elements, which again emphasizes the importance of proper classification.

The process of soil classification first started in 1938 in Russia and at that time it was mainly focused on the difference between intrazonal and azonal soils. Modern soil classification systems only started in 1967, resulting in the publication of the 7th Approximation of the USDA Soil Taxonomy.


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