Soil Classification

An overview by the FAO

Soil classification concerns the grouping of soils with a similar range of properties (chemical, physical and biological) into units that can be geo-referenced and mapped.

Soils are a very complex natural resource, much more so than air and water. Soils contain all naturally occurring chemical elements and combine simultaneously solid, liquid and gaseous states. Moreover, the number of physical, chemical and biological characteristics and their combinations are nearly endless. No wonder that many different approaches have been proposed to come to a sensible grouping of different soils. Also soil classification systems were developed for different purposes:

  • Soil Taxonomy to interpret soil surveys
  • The FAO Legend for representing the global distribution and geography of soils
  • WRB to facilitate correlations between different soil classification systems;

In Australia the National Committee on Soil and Terrain (NCST) is the peak government committee providing national leadership and coordination on the assessment of soil and terrain in Australia.

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