What is Soil?

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10 Questions

Why is the soil considered to have the largest quantity of organisms on earth?

Because of its high population density of microorganisms

What is the main focus of Pedology in the study of soils?

Origin and classification of soils

Which group has the highest population density per gram of soil among the listed microbial groups?


Why should an engineer study soil?

To support building foundations

What is the historical development path of Soil Science?

Initially part of Geology and then developed into a Natural Science

What is the primary focus of Edaphology in the study of soils?

Describing soil properties that affect plant growth

Why is it essential to never call soil 'dirt'?

'Dirt' implies a lack of value compared to 'soil'

Which profession has a viewpoint that focuses on utilizing soils properly?


What does the highest population density per gram of soil indicate?

A high concentration of microorganisms in the soil

Why is an understanding of soil properties crucial for various uses?

To manipulate physical properties to improve quality

Study Notes

Soil Definition and Properties

  • A collection of natural bodies on the earth's surface containing living matter and supporting or capable of supporting plants.
  • A transformed or decomposed rock with porous properties.
  • Properties are influenced by all components of the ecosystem.

Soil Dimensions

  • Classic concept: Soil is a 3-dimensional body with length, breadth, and depth.
  • Modern concept: Soil is a space-time structure with length, breadth, depth, and time dimensions.

Soil Boundaries

  • Upper boundary: air, shallow water, live plants, or loose plant material that has not begun to decompose.
  • Lateral boundary: deep water, barren areas of rock, ice, salt, or shifting desert sand dunes.
  • Lower boundary: the depth to which soil weathering has been effective, generally thought of as the common rooting depth of native perennial plants.

Soil as Part of Landscape and Ecosystems

  • Soil is part of a landscape, which is a three-dimensional section of the earth's surface with a specific pattern of topography, rocks, water, and flora and fauna.
  • Soil is part of the pedosphere, a portion of the landscape.
  • Soil is part of an ecosystem, an interacting system of biologic community and its non-living environment.

Soil Forming Factors

  • Parent material: rock, alluvium, glacial till, loess.
  • Climate: temperature and humidity.
  • Biota: animals, microbes, plants, humans.
  • Topography: shape and features of the land.
  • Time: soil formation is a process that occurs over time.

Importance of Soil

  • Soil is crucial for human sustenance and ecosystem diversity.
  • Soil is often overlooked because it is hard to observe, but it plays a vital role in supporting ecosystems.
  • Soil is a critical component of ecosystem health and biodiversity.

Explore the concept of soil as a natural body on the earth's surface, formed from transformed or decomposed rock, with porous properties influenced by all components of the ecosystem. Understand the classic 3-dimensional view of soil as well as the modern space-time perspective.

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