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Soil Profile

The soil profile is composed of the layers of the soil. These layers can provide very relevant details about it. The information can include the fertility and nutrients of a specific area. You can easily look at the layers of the soil and determine how fertile it might be. A soil that has a very deep surface layer with plenty of organic material has a very high chance of being fertile.

On the other hand a light colored layer near the surface can give the indication that most nutrients have been drained from the area creating an infertile soil. Understanding the composition of the land is essential in order to use the appropriate farming method.

Ground Composition

The soil profile can be divided into several layers and these layers are known as horizons. There are many different types of horizons, however, they can be grouped into 5 master horizons. Each horizon is a layer that runs parallel to the surface and has many different properties than the other layers. The 5 master horizons are known as O, A, E, B and C.

Some classification systems recognize certain subdivisions between the horizons like O1, O2, B1 and B2; the 5 types are the most important ones:

- The first type is the O horizon.

The letter O refers that it is mostly composed of organic material. This is the upper layer of the soil and could be divided into 2 areas. The first is the O1 which is formed from organic matter that hasn’t been completely decomposed whose origin can be determined. The second is the O2 which is organic material that is completely decomposed whose origin are hard to identify.

- Next is the A horizon.

This horizon is located beneath the O. It is mostly composed of different kinds of minerals and organic material. This dark colored horizon has a well varied mixture of organic and inorganic material.

- Deeper than the A horizon you can find the E.

The E horizon is light colored and is the layer where many organic and inorganic materials are drained through the eluviation process. Eluviation occurs as water go down through the soil.

- The B horizon is the one beneath the E.

In the B horizon is where most of the minerals and nutrients accumulate. Aluminum, iron oxides and some organic material tends to gather in this layer as the water from the soil goes downward.

- Another important part of the soil profile is the C horizon.

The C horizon is located below the B horizon and is known as the soil parent material. This is the area of the soil that is almost unaffected by the weathering process. Under the C horizon lays the bedrock.

Newly formed soil may be composed of only O, A and C horizons but older soils have the main 5 types.

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