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Soils Fundamental Concepts



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NRCS Soil Fundamental Concepts Scoop on Soil Educational CD May 2006 Soils Fundamental Concepts The Soil In Perspective A fundamental knowledge of soil science is a prerequisite to meeting the many natural resource challenges that will face humanity in the 21st Century It is also true that the study of soils can be both fascinating and intellectually satisfying It is in the soils that we are able to observe all of the principles of biology chemistry and physics at work It is the understanding of these principles which enables us to minimize the degradation and destruction of one of our most important natural resources Much of our life s activities and pursuits are related to and influenced by the behavior of the soil around our houses roads septic and sewage disposal systems airports parks farms forests schools and shopping centers It is essential that conservation professionals understand the soils on which we build and design and work In any field of natural resources it is important to understand the soil properties which impact the application of technology as we use it to preserve and protect our most basic natural resource our soils Soil Defined We have several definitions of soil depending on the discipline providing the definition Geologic definition loose surface of the earth as distinguished from solid bedrock Support of plant life not required Traditional definition material which nourishes and supports growing plants Includes rocks water snow and even air all of which are capable of supporting plant life Component definition mixture of mineral matter organic matter water and air Example Loam soil 45 mineral matter 5 organic matter 25 water and 25 air Figure 1 Soil Taxonomy definition collection of natural bodies of the earth s surface in places modified or even made by man or earthy materials containing living matter and supporting or capable of supporting plants out of doors Its upper limit is air or shallow water At its margins it grades to deep water



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