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Keys to Soil Taxonomy, Twelfth Edition, 2014

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posted by alias John's Love of Nature on Monday 31st of January 2011 02:17:10 PM

The intent of the definitions in Soil Taxonomy is to provide operational definitions which can be applied uniformly by pedologists with very diverse backgrounds and experience and that will permit the classification of the same soil in the same place by these pedologists working independently and with varying backgrounds (Dr. Guy D. Smith, former director of the Soil Survey Investigations Division of the Soil Conservation Service; Guy Smith Interviews). Since it was first published 39 years ago, Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys has been used to support soil survey efforts in many countries around the world. It has been translated into several languages. Soil scientists from many nations have contributed significantly to the development of soil taxonomy. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Science Division encourages the further use of soil taxonomy internationally and anticipates future collaborations with the international soil science community in order to continually improve this classification system. Continued communication and collaboration will result in a truly universal soil classification system. There are four main purposes of Soil Taxonomy. The first is to facilitate communication among soil scientists. Soil Taxonomy allows scientists to group and sort thousands of soil series in a meaningful way. Groupings can be made at various map scales by using different levels of the classification hierarchy. For the most detailed surveys, soils are grouped into the series level of components. Some order 4 surveys may use families or phases of higher taxa. Small-scale surveys may use the order or suborder level in Soil Taxonomy. The second purpose of Soil Taxonomy is to provide names for taxa that are based on formative elements. For example, soil orders (such as Aridisols) begin with a formative element and end in “sol,” the Latin word for soil. The taxa names quickly convey information about soil, including diagnostic horizons and features, moisture and temperature regimes, and natural fertility. Use of the formative elements helps organize knowledge about soils. The third purpose is to provide a link between the conceptual classes in Soil Taxonomy and actual natural bodies of soils. The conceptual classes embody current understanding of soil genesis and geographic distribution of soils worldwide. Through the correlation process, the specific natural soil bodies (components) making up the map units depicted in soil survey maps are assigned names using the taxonomic system. Lastly, Soil Taxonomy provides a way to transfer information and technology. It allows the transfer of information about soil properties and performance gathered at one location to other locations where the same soil occurs. For more information about Soil Taxonomy, visit;

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