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Introduction to Soil Science

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Information about Introduction to Soil Science
Education

Published on January 21, 2009

Author: andykleinschmidt

Source: slideshare.net

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This is an introductory soil science presentation that I give to Master Gardeners, agribusiness personnel, farmers, and soil science students. Please feel free to contact me at andykleinschmidt@gmail.com with any comments regarding the presentation.
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Introduction to Soil Andy Kleinschmidt Don McClure Extension Educator Soil Scientist Van Wert County NRCS-USDA

What is Soil? A logical place to begin today is with a definition of soil. Soil: Unconsolidated mineral or material on the surface of the earth resulting from and influenced by time, parent material, climate, organisms, and topography. Not all soil is created equal, ‘the soil’ vs. a soil.

Why are soils important? Great integrator Producer and absorber of gases Medium for plant growth Medium of crop production Home to organisms (plants, animals and others) Waste decomposer Snapshot of geologic, climatic, biological, and human history Source material for construction, medicine, art, etc. Filter of water and wastes Essential natural resource

Objectives Soil color Soil texture Soil structure Soil pH CEC Microorganisms Nutrient movement

Soil color

Soil texture

Soil structure

Soil pH

CEC

Microorganisms

Nutrient movement

What ‘stands out’ about the landscape? COLOR!

Soil Color Color is the most obvious characteristic of soil. What are some colors encouraged by well aerated conditions? What are some colors encouraged by poorly aerated conditions? Soil color is influenced by the oxidation state of iron and manganese. RED YELLOW BROWN GRAY BLUE

 

 

Soil Color, Soil Aeration or Drainage, and the Oxidation State of Iron 1. Iron is reduced 2. Fe ++ 3. dull colors (grays, blue ) 4. poorly drained 1. Iron is oxidized 2. Fe +++ 3. bright colors ( yellows , browns) 4. well drained POOR AERATION GOOD AERATION

 

Soil Color Tells A Story Well Drained Poorly Drained Drainage on this farm?

Soil Horizons B C Ap Zone of highest organic matter content. The ‘p’ denotes that this soil has been plowed. A layer of accumulation of iron and clays. Blocky structure is readily seen in this layer. Unconsolidated material. Outside the zone of major biological activity and is not affected by soil forming processes.

Soil Profile What do we see? organic matter - surface soil is darker due to organic matter iron oxides - subsoil has brighter browns and tans due to iron oxides drainage horizons - layers of different color or texture; formed from the top down

organic matter - surface soil is darker due to organic matter

iron oxides - subsoil has brighter browns and tans due to iron oxides

drainage

horizons - layers of different color or texture; formed from the top down

 

. . . more on Soil Horizons Mollisol Alfisol B C Ap A

USDA-NRCS National Soil Survey Center

Average Soil Composition { } Pore space 50% Solids 50% 25% Water 25% Air 5% Organic Matter 45% Inorganic (mineral materials)                                                                                                    

Soil Texture Determined by the relative proportion of sand, silt and clay Surface Area Charge Sand 50 cm 2 /g none Silt 500 cm 2 /g none Clay 5,000,000 cm 2 /g negative

Determined by the relative proportion of sand, silt and clay

Relative Size Comparison of Soil Particles Sand - feels gritty Silt - feels floury (2.00 - 0.05 mm) (0.05 - 0.002 mm) (< 0.002 mm) barrel plate coin Clay - feels sticky USDA system for determining soil separates

Clay Silty Clay Silty Clay Loam Clay Loam Sandy Clay Sandy Clay Loam Loam Silt Loam Silt Sandy Loam Sand Percent Clay Percent Silt Percent Sand Fine Medium Coarse Loamy Sand Soil Triangle

Sand Sandy loam Silt loam Clay loam Clay 1 2 3 4 Available Water Inches water/ft soil Plant Available Water Field Capacity Wilting Point

Available Water Holding Capacity Rhoads and Yonts, 1984. Storage capacity Silty clay loam 1.8 Clay loam 1.8 Silty clay 1.6 Silt loam 2.0 Sandy loam 1.4 Texture (in./ft.)

 

Comparison of Coarse Textured and Fine Textured Soils Coarse Textured Soil Less porespace but more macropores Fine Textured Soil More total porespace Texture and Pore Space

Soil Structure Soil structure is the combination or arrangement of primary soil particles into secondary units The way soil particles are arranged to form stable aggregates Compare this to clods, which are caused by disturbance (plowing or digging) Compaction – results from implement traffic, stable soil aggregates are broken down

Soil structure is the combination or arrangement of primary soil particles into secondary units

The way soil particles are arranged to form stable aggregates

Compare this to clods, which are caused by disturbance (plowing or digging)

Compaction – results from implement traffic, stable soil aggregates are broken down

Common Types of Soil Structure Granular Platy Prismatic Columnar Blocky Single Grain Massive Common to Ohio soils just below Ap (> 8”) Plow layer Sand Deeper in profile (>3-4’)

GRANULAR

BLOCKY

C B E A Granular Platy Blocky Massive

Bulk Density Determination For our example, let’s assume we have 1 cubic centimeter of soil that weighs 1.33 grams Soil is made of solids and pore spaces 1.33 grams { } To calculate Bulk Density: Volume = 1 cm 3 Weight = 1.33 grams Bulk Density = Weight of Soil Volume of Soil Bulk Density = 1.33 1 Bulk Density = 1.33 grams/cm 3

Bulk Density (con’t.) Bulk density (g/cm 3 ) Soil Cropped Uncropped Hagerstown loam (PA) 1.25 Marshall silt loam (IA) 1.13 Nappanese silt loam (OH) 1.31 Data from Lyon et al. (50%) (56%) (51%) (57%) (63%) (60%) 1.07 0.93 1.05 What impact does this have on pore space?

Some Common Bulk Densities Uncultivated/undisturbed woodlots 1.0 to 1.2 g/cm 3 Cultivated clay and silt loams 1.1 to 1.5 g/cm 3 Cultivated sandy loams 1.3 to 1.7 g/cm 3 Compacted glacial till 1.9 to 2.2 g/cm 3 Concrete 2.4 g/cm 3

Uncultivated/undisturbed woodlots

1.0 to 1.2 g/cm 3

Cultivated clay and silt loams

1.1 to 1.5 g/cm 3

Cultivated sandy loams

1.3 to 1.7 g/cm 3

Compacted glacial till

1.9 to 2.2 g/cm 3

Concrete

2.4 g/cm 3

Bulk Density and Compaction 8 inches 1.43 0 inches 7 inches 9 inches 10 inches Bulk Density (g/cm 3 ) 1.90 1.87 1.84 1.80 1.60 Plow layer Compacted zone Uncompacted subsoil Depth Data from Camp and Lund Till 2.20

Influences of Soil Texture, Soil Structure and Density Water movement Water retention Soil temperature Gas exchange Erosion potential Fertility

Water movement

Water retention

Soil temperature

Gas exchange

Erosion potential

Fertility

Hydrologic Cycle and Soil Color Structure Bulk Density Texture pH Temperature Moisture Horizon Depths Soil properties that are part of the hydrologic cycle.

Soil pH - a “master variable” Acid (pH=1.0) Neutral (pH=7.0) Alkaline (pH=14.0) A measure of the hydrogen (H + ) ion activity One pH unit change = a ten fold change in acidity or alkalinity

A measure of the hydrogen (H + ) ion activity

One pH unit change = a ten fold change in acidity or alkalinity

Why called “master variable”? soil pH controls: soil microbe activity nutrient exchanges nutrient availability gaseous exchanges chemical degradation CEC

soil pH controls:

soil microbe activity

nutrient exchanges

nutrient availability

gaseous exchanges

chemical degradation

CEC

pH value { { Too alkaline for most plants Too acidic for most plants Range of alkalinity soils of arid and semiarid regions have pH greater than 8.0 Range of acidity weathered soils of the southeastern US coastal plains typically have pH less than 5.0 4.0 5.0 6.0 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.0

Soil pH Methods for soil pH determination can vary widely Measure of the direct concentration of H + ions in the soil solution Buffer pH measures both H + ions in the soil solution and the reserve H + ions bound on cation exchange sites It is used to express the acidity or alkalinity of the soil solution, not lime requirement pH represents the equation -log[H + ]

Methods for soil pH determination can vary widely

Measure of the direct concentration of H + ions in the soil solution

Buffer pH measures both H + ions in the soil solution and the reserve H + ions bound on cation exchange sites

It is used to express the acidity or alkalinity of the soil solution, not lime requirement

pH represents the equation -log[H + ]

Factors Affecting Soil pH Parent Soil Material Precipitation Nitrogen Applications Cropping Sequence Organic Matter Breakdown

Parent Soil Material

Precipitation

Nitrogen Applications

Cropping Sequence

Organic Matter Breakdown

Making Acid Rain acid rain a concern air has carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) acid produced by nitrogen applications H 2 O + CO 2 H 2 CO 3 (carbonic acid) atmospheric CO 2 gives rain a pH of 5.6 fossil fuels add to acid rain, but requires only 25 lbs. limestone per year to neutralize

acid rain a concern

air has carbon dioxide (CO 2 )

acid produced by nitrogen applications

atmospheric CO 2 gives rain a pH of 5.6

fossil fuels add to acid rain, but requires only 25 lbs. limestone per year to neutralize

Clay Minerals Clay structure magnified 1,600 times

Clays are layered minerals made of . . . . . . together they form . . .

Organic Matter OR

Factors Influencing Organic Matter Accumulation Topography Native Vegetation Climate Time Organisms

Topography

Native Vegetation

Climate

Time

Organisms

Forest Soil 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 0 2 4 6 8 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Percent Organic Matter in Soil Well Drained Poorly Drained Soil Depth in Inches Soil Depth in Inches

Prairie vs. Forest Soil Prairie Forest Effect of Native Vegetation A horizon = 14 inches A horizon = 4 inches

Importance of Soil Organic Matter Physical and Chemical Properties Improves physical condition Allows for good aggregation of soil particles because of the plant and animal residues in the surface Increased water infiltration Allows water saturation by acting as an absorbent Improves Soil Tilth Allows for more uniformity of the soil aggregates in proportion to the plant, animal and mineral residues present

Improves physical condition

Allows for good aggregation of soil particles because of the plant and animal residues in the surface

Increased water infiltration

Allows water saturation by acting as an absorbent

Improves Soil Tilth

Allows for more uniformity of the soil aggregates in proportion to the plant, animal and mineral residues present

Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) Ability of a soil to hold and exchange cations Ions are atoms with an electrical charge Negatively charged colloids (organic matter and clay) attract and hold cations Cations Ca 2+ , Mg 2+ Na + , K + Anions SO 4 2- , PO 4 3- Cl - , NO 3 -

Ability of a soil to hold and exchange cations

Ions are atoms with an electrical charge

Negatively charged colloids (organic matter and clay) attract and hold cations

CEC of a soil is due to: Organic Matter Content Clay Content Type of Clay Montmorillonite high CEC Illite mod. CEC Kaolinite low CEC

Organic Matter Content

Clay Content

Type of Clay

Montmorillonite high CEC

Illite mod. CEC

Kaolinite low CEC

NRCS STATSGO Database

CEC (con’t.) Most soils are negatively charged and hold cations. Cations held on exchange sites may move into the soil solution & be taken up by roots. Anions are not held on soil and are subject to leaching (P is exception).

Most soils are negatively charged and hold cations.

Cations held on exchange sites may move into the soil solution & be taken up by roots.

Anions are not held on soil and are subject to leaching (P is exception).

SOIL COLLOID N S N S S N N S + - - + + - + - Like poles (charges) repel Opposite poles (charges) attract Ca 2+ K + Na + Mg 2+ SO 4 2- NO 3 - Cl - NH 4 +

Common CEC Range Heavy Clay 50 CEC Sand 2 CEC CEC 25 More Clay, More Positions to Hold Cations CEC 5 Less Clay, Fewer Positions to Hold Cations K + Ca 2+ Mg 2+ NH 4 + Na + K + Ca 2+ K + Sand Clay Another Schematic Look at CEC

Some practical applications Soil CEC 11-50 Soil CEC 1-10 Clay content Nutrient relationship Water Holding Capacity Lime relationship Higher clay content Lower clay content Requires more lime to correct a given pH Requires less lime to correct a given pH Greater capacity to hold nutrients Leaching more likely Higher water holding capacity Lower water holding capacity

Microorganisms * in the Soil Microbes live in small clumps In fact, less than 1% of the soil surface will support the growth of microbes Do not migrate much Their goal: maintain species 7,000 different species in one gram of soil! 4.5 x 10 16 bacteria/acre, 3 inches deep * Excludes nonarthropod and arthropod animals, as well as vertebrates Microbes are hungry, immobile and ready to reproduce

Microbes live in small clumps

In fact, less than 1% of the soil surface will support the growth of microbes

Do not migrate much

Their goal: maintain species

7,000 different species in one gram of soil!

4.5 x 10 16 bacteria/acre, 3 inches deep

One final thought . . . What do you notice about this soil core? macropores

Preferential Flow Calculated from Kladivco, et al. (1999); models from Cornell Example of pesticide leaching through preferential flow. Atrazine applied. Initial storm of season. Notice preferential flow. A B C Soil Horizon 68% of leachable atrazine was lost to preferential flow during the first storm. What are the implications from a soil fertility standpoint?

Soils ENJOY THE REMAINDER OF THE TRAINING. WE’RE GLAD YOU ARE HERE.

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