S No. 1 2 3 Topic Etymology Definition Characteristics Description Soil – L. solum – soil ; bottom ; Pedosphere – pedos – soil, sphaira – area Top fertile layer of the earth crust or land Soil Complex – as is a mixture of clay, silt, sand, organic matter, water, air, organisms, etc. Living - as contain living organisms which maintain its fertility and porosity due to decomposed organic matter and fixation of nitrogen (without this soil will be turned dead and won’t be able to support vegetation) Primacy of Life – as supports vegetation which in turn support other organisms - acts as medium for anchorage of their roots - serves as repository of nutrients needed by plants - acts as a source of water to be used by plants - acts as habitat for microorganisms and burrowing animals, which contribute by making soil porous and fertile for supporting plants Determiner for productivity of supported crops; required to be maintained, particularly of farm lands to support increasing human and animal populations Soil is comprised of 5 components – mineral matter, organic matter, soil air, soil moisture and soil microorganisms - consists of coarse sand, fine sand, clay, silt - determine structure/ texture/ packing of soil - sand confers porosity - fine pores hold water against gravity - clay adsorbs nutrients, and become available to roots - occurs as litter (fresh and partly decomposed organic matter) and humus (fully decomposed litter) - increases fertility of the soil - occurs as water and water vapours - serves several functions – keeps soil soft, source of water for plants, keep minerals in solution form, cools soil by evaporation - only capillary water available to plants - microorganisms – - macro-organisms – - Earthworms described as friends of farmers and nature’s ploughmen - a slow process - due to interaction of climatic, physiographic and biotic factors o the rock matter - involve 2 main phases – weathering ( breakdown of rocks in to finer bits by alternate cooling/heating, drying/wetting) and humification (formation and addition of humus into weathered rock matter) - A dark brown, fine powdery colloidal organic matter formed from litter by microbial induced decomposition - binds soil particles, increases water holding capacity, [porosity and fertility of soil.


Why is soil Necessary for Vegetation?

5 6

Health of Soil Components of soil Mineral Matter

Organic Matter Soil Moisture

Soil Organisms


Soil Formation or Pedogenesis


What is Humus?


Soil Profile

10 11

Water Holding Capacity (WHC) of Soil Types of Soils


Soil Erosion


How to Check Soil Erosion?


Soil Pollution


How to Check Soil Pollution?

- it is the view of the soil in vertical section, cut from surface to parent rock - shows series of parallel layers, called soil horizons, each with distinct soil texture and composition - number of soil horizons and also their nature varies from soil to soil - a typical mature soil has 4 horizons – - O-horizon, also called surface-litter layer; organic debris overlying true soil - A-horizon, also called true or top soil; mixture of humus and inorganic particulates; its thickness and humus contents determine fertility of soil; average 15 cm thick, but can go up to 3 meters - B- horizon, also called sub-soil; contain sand, silt, clay, grave and leachates from upper layer, can be up to 1 meter thick - C- horizon, also called layer of parent rock matter; rock bits overlying rock bed (D- horizon; saturated with water and comprise water table.) Percent water retained by soil after thorough irrigation and gravitational loss; sandy soil has minimum and clay soil has maximum; humus enhances WHC of soil. On basis of texture, soils are of several types – clay, sandy and loam - clay soil have negligible sand and more than half clay; has highest WHC and produce water logging - sandy soil have ¾ sand; has highest porosity and permeability; but due to less capillary pores has poor WHC; - loam soil have highest %age of silt, but also has sand, clay and humus; has high porosity and WHC; best for agriculture - process of loss of top fertile layer of soil - can be natural or man-made; water caused erosion or wind caused; sheet erosion, rill erosion and gully type - caused by Overgrazing, deforestation and mismanagement of land/soils - sheet erosion is most damaging, as removes the top fertile soil - Rills are finger like narrow depressions caused by runoff on unprotected soils; generally caused by heavy downpour - Gullies are permanent wide channels formed by fast flowing water; seen on steep unprotected slopes; deepen on every passing year; most permanent form of erosion - Water eroded soils can be conserved by contour farming, strip cropping, control bunding, graded bunding, bench terracing, gully reclamations - Wind eroded soils can be conserved by plantations like wind breaks and shelter belts - any unfavorable alteration in soil quality which renders it unfit for vegetation and adversely effects health of animals and human beings - differs from other forms of pollutions in being - localized and persistence of pollutant for longer period of time - pollutants may leach down to water table to render it unfit for consumption – drinking, industrial, irrigation , etc. - minimize use of agro-chemicals (pesticides/insecticides, fertilizers, weedicides) - proper sanitation, so that excreta and wastes do not reach soils - collection and recycling of wastes



- disposal of wastes through - sanitary landfills, incineration, composting, biogas generation, etc. - colour of soil depends on inorganic contents, humus contents and climatic conditions - by soil texture we mean physical nature of soil determined by coarseness/fineness due to relative proportion of various particulate components - when we say we are 15 cm away from annihilation, means 15 cm of true soil is necessary for maintain vegetation, therefore life

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