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Soil classification

Also termed soil taxonomy, is the scientific discipline dealing with grouping of soils into soil morphological units or soil types, according to similar or comparable soil forming properties. Many countries in the world have national soil classification systems but those of FAO, WRB and USDA are used internationally. For transnational comparisons, an international soil classification system, into which the majority of national systems can be translated, is needed. In future, this will be the WRB.

Soil colour

Soil colour is one of the indicators of soil status and depends on many factors, mainly on the amount and state of organic matter and iron oxide, as well as amount of air and water in soil pores; In general, dark soils have high organic matter content, grey soils are waterlogged or anaerobic, brown soils are well-drained and aerated soils. Soil colour is measured using Munsell Soil Color charts.

Soil compaction (Soil compaction)

Changing the nature of the soil such that there is a decrease in the volume of voids between soil particles or aggregates; it is manifest as an increase in bulk density and a severely compacted soil can become effectively impermeable. Some soils are naturally compacted, e.g. very heavy textured soils (fine textured). Man-made compaction is caused by the passage of heavy machinery and very intensive soil exploitation.


Soil cracks

Openings in horizontal (mm or several cm) and vertical (cm or several m) orientation, mainly affecting soil hydraulic properties, arising from swelling and Shrinking processes. Heavy clay soils are more susceptible to cracks formation than loamy soils whereas in sandy soils cracks do not form or they are very small and unstable. Soil cultivation destroys crack system, mainly by tillage.

Soil degradation (Soil degradation)

Negative process often accelerated by human activities (improper soil use and cultivation practices, building areas) that leads to deterioration of soil properties and functions or destruction of soil as a whole, e.g. compaction, erosion, salinisation.

Soil depth

Depth of soil profile from the top to parent material or bedrock or to the layer of obstacles for roots. It differs significantly for different soil types. It is one of basic criterions used in soil classification. Soils can be very shallow (less than 25 cm), shallow (25 cm-50 cm), moderately deep (50 cm-90 cm), deep (90cm-150 cm) and very deep (more than 150 cm).

Soil fertility

A measure of the ability of soil to provide plants with sufficient amount of nutrients and water, and a suitable medium for root development to assure proper plant growth and maturity.

Soil geography

Scientific discipline dealing with distribution of soil types in landscapes, describing this distribution according to geographical rules.

Soil organisms

Creatures that spend all or part of their lives in the soil.

Soil sealing

Loss of soil resources due to the covering of land for housing, roads or other construction work.

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