<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Soil distribution is not homogenous because its formation results in the production of layers; together, the vertical section of a soil is called the soil profile    . Within the soil profile, soil scientists define zones called horizons. A horizon    is a soil layer with distinct physical and chemical properties that differ from those of other layers. Five factors account for soil formation: parent material, climate, topography, biological factors, and time.

Parent material

The organic and inorganic material in which soils form is the parent material    . Mineral soils form directly from the weathering of bedrock    , the solid rock that lies beneath the soil, and therefore, they have a similar composition to the original rock. Other soils form in materials that came from elsewhere, such as sand and glacial drift. Materials located in the depth of the soil are relatively unchanged compared with the deposited material. Sediments in rivers may have different characteristics, depending on whether the stream moves quickly or slowly. A fast-moving river could have sediments of rocks and sand, whereas a slow-moving river could have fine-textured material, such as clay.

Climate

Temperature, moisture, and wind cause different patterns of weathering and therefore affect soil characteristics. The presence of moisture and nutrients from weathering will also promote biological activity: a key component of a quality soil.

Topography

Regional surface features (familiarly called “the lay of the land”) can have a major influence on the characteristics and fertility of a soil. Topography affects water runoff, which strips away parent material and affects plant growth. Steeps soils are more prone to erosion and may be thinner than soils that are relatively flat or level.

Biological factors

The presence of living organisms greatly affects soil formation and structure. Animals and microorganisms can produce pores and crevices, and plant roots can penetrate into crevices to produce more fragmentation. Plant secretions promote the development of microorganisms around the root, in an area known as the rhizosphere    . Additionally, leaves and other material that fall from plants decompose and contribute to soil composition.

Time

Time is an important factor in soil formation because soils develop over long periods. Soil formation is a dynamic process. Materials are deposited over time, decompose, and transform into other materials that can be used by living organisms or deposited onto the surface of the soil.

Physical properties of the soil

Soils are named and classified based on their horizons. The soil profile has four distinct layers: 1) O horizon; 2) A horizon; 3) B horizon, or subsoil; and 4) C horizon, or soil base ( [link] ). The O horizon    has freshly decomposing organic matter—humus—at its surface, with decomposed vegetation at its base. Humus enriches the soil with nutrients and enhances soil moisture retention. Topsoil—the top layer of soil—is usually two to three inches deep, but this depth can vary considerably. For instance, river deltas like the Mississippi River delta have deep layers of topsoil. Topsoil is rich in organic material; microbial processes occur there, and it is the “workhorse” of plant production. The A horizon    consists of a mixture of organic material with inorganic products of weathering, and it is therefore the beginning of true mineral soil. This horizon is typically darkly colored because of the presence of organic matter. In this area, rainwater percolates through the soil and carries materials from the surface. The B horizon is an accumulation of mostly fine material that has moved downward, resulting in a dense layer in the soil. In some soils, the B horizon contains nodules or a layer of calcium carbonate. The C horizon    , or soil base, includes the parent material, plus the organic and inorganic material that is broken down to form soil. The parent material may be either created in its natural place, or transported from elsewhere to its present location. Beneath the C horizon lies bedrock.

Questions & Answers

Describe the factors affecting homotasis
Grace Reply
prove starch in a mango leaf
Ruth Reply
prove starch in a leaf
Ruth
draw and name the plant cell
Nalongo
wat is classification
Nalongo
levels of classification
Nalongo
classification of what
Ezenwa
Nidhipal
Nidhi
Identify the caste of termites or Honey bees
Mensah Reply
Soldier Winged reproductive Worker King and queen
Franklina
what is biology
Jackson Reply
biology is a study of living organism
Brilliant
what is the myelin sheath?
description on how an enzyme such as pepsin breaks down a substrate
linister Reply
what is biology
Kanzy Reply
study of life
Tufail
the study of life..meaning studying all aspects of life in humans,animals and everything inside the global
Nalukui
study of life
Memory
is the branch of science which deal with the study of living and non living things
David
Is the study of living organisms or living things
Franklina
draw the taxonomic hierarchy of classification
KC Reply
Kingdom Class Order Family Genus Species
Franklina
explain the following bush burning, deforestation, over grazing
Thomas Reply
what is biodiversity
Tracy
No idea
nana
Please what are alleles
nana
Deforestation: this is the cutting down of trees without planting new ones
Brilliant
over grazing is the continuously planting of crops in one particular land.
Friday
what is afforestation
Friday
Bush burning is the removal of the natural vegetation cover, that protects the soil surface through the use of fire. Deforestation is the actor process of establishing a forest especially on land not previously forested.
Franklina
Over grazing is the practice of grazing toi many livestock for too long a period on a land unable to recover its vegetation.
Franklina
what is physiology
Joseph Reply
the study of physical things
Nalukui
dealing with those things which you can see by your neck eyes
Odwa
Further explanation please
nana
the study of things tt interact with time,energy
David
Is the scientific study of chemistry and physics of the structure of the body
Franklina
can a lactating mother get pregnant
Elias Reply
what is cell
Deng Reply
the basic building blocks of all living matter...
Izzati
cell is a basic unit of life
MAI
building blocks ie cells not a cell there4 a cell is the basic unit of biotic things
David
Cell is a basic unit of life
Malekhotla
A cell is the basic structural and functional unit of life
Franklina
A cell is the basic unit of life,it include both plant and animals need a cell
Thomas
what's microscope
Emmanuel Reply
is any instrument that use to wiew or to see the small object that you can't see with our naked eye
MR
is any instrument used to magnifie small object
Memory
Is an instrument that produces an enlarged image of an object or specimen that is too small to be seen with our naked eye
Franklina
what is the function of the spinal cord
Gaone Reply
For responsible of movement and sensation
Franklina
A cell is the structural and fictional unit of life
Evelyn Reply
what is tidal volume
Erick
tidal volume is the volume of each breath measured during inspiration or expiration or averged for the entire respiratory cycle
Gaone
Give function of the long strands of slippery or jelly like substance in eggs of the amphibians in water ?
Erick
the long strands of slippery or jelly like substance him eggs of amphibians in water helps in keeping the eggs moist and protection from predators
Gaone
sorry not him in
Gaone
what's is microscope
Emmanuel
How do bacteria useful?
Bisirikirwa

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store Now




Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask