What’s your favorite soil?

Question: What’s your favorite type of soil and why?

Before getting too far into this question, I think it’s important to note that there are different ways to look at “type” of soil. We could, for example, view soils from the perspective of texture, and talk about sandy soils, silty soils, clay-rich soils, etc.

At left, a Spodosol in Georgia, USA. Photo by Eric Brevik. At right, a Spodosol in New York State, USA. Photo courtesy of the Marbut Memorial Slide Collection.

To answer this question I’m going to view soils from the perspective of Soil Taxonomy, the classification system used in the United States.

My favorite soil is the Spodosol. This is because they are very pretty soils to view in the field when a soil pit is dug. Spodosols have distinct color differences in their layers, or horizons, which really stand out and give the profile great contrast. In the above photo of two Spodosols from the United States, you can really see the layers and the variety of colors these soils display.

Spodosols are found in many countries around the world, but because we don’t have a standardized worldwide soil classification system, they are called different things in different places. The World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) was devised to provide a common language for soil scientists and represents approximate correlations to national classification systems.

In the WRB system, Spodosols are called Podzols. Much of the world uses terminology similar to the WRB name. For example, soils that are similar to U.S. Spodosols that are found in Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom are called Podzolic soils. Germany uses the name Podsols, Austria uses Podsole, and Australia uses Podosols. In France and New Zealand, these soils are called Podzols, just like in WRB.

Like the United States, China uses the term Spodosols, but Brazil has gone their own direction and uses Espodossolos.

–Answered by Eric Brevik, Dickinson State University

Have a question for Soils Matter? Post it as a comment below, or email us at soils-matter@soils.org.

2 thoughts on “What’s your favorite soil?

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