Introduction: General Characteristics of Soil Orders and Global Distributions

Authored by: Larry P. Wilding , Larry T. West

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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The purpose of this chapter is to present a discussion of the distribution, attributes, pedogenesis, classification, use, and management of the 12 soil orders recognized by Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, “1999”). In this chapter, soil orders have been arrayed in a sequence to consider the organic soils first, followed next by soils that are weakly expressed or lack subsoil diagnostic horizons, and closing with soils exhibiting the greatest evidence of pedogenic weathering and/or accumulation of sesquioxides and translocated phyllosilicates. Only general statements can be made at this categorical level, but the information content becomes more precise as one descends to lower taxa (Sections 33.2 through 33.13). Because Soil Taxonomy is a dynamic classification system, the content is subject to change. For example, the most recent edition of the Keys to Soil Taxonomy (Soil Survey Staff, 2010) includes newly defined taxa for subaqueous soils (soils permanently inundated by shallow water) in the Histosols and Entisols (Sections 33.2 and 33.4).

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