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Diversity and Systematization of Soils

In Germany, soils are systematized according to the "natural" system of Kubiena and Mückenhausen of 1953. The classification system is constantly updated by the Working Group on Soil Systematics of the German Soil Science Society (DBG). The current version is found in the Soil-Mapping Guide, Bodenkundlichen Kartieranleitung,KA5 of 2005 Internationally, soils are described in the U.S. Soil Taxonomy or according to FAO's Word Reference Base for Soil Resources.

 

Teaching Materials

pH-Wert und Kationenaustausch: Kleines Chemie Einmaleins
Lupe

pH value and cation exchange: Small Chemistry Guide
by Ursula Nellen

 

The presentation is offered for download in German language.

Show profile!

We regularly present soil profiles on this page. The illustrations and descriptions are intended to provide an insight into our extensive collection and also serve self-study purposes.

Braunerde
Lupe

Classification

Deutsche Bodensystematik: Weakly podzolized brown earth soil from boulder sand

USDA soil taxonomy: Orchrept

WRB: Dystric Cambisol

Genesis

Podsolized brown soil is a further development of the brown soil on the way to the Podzol. Beginning podzolation leads to Fe-leaching from the Aeh horizon into the Bsv horizon. As a result, typical rust-brown Bsv horizons develop in the Berlin area, which is why these soils in Berlin and the surrounding area are also called rust brown soils. Clay belts in the bottom of the profile indicate clay migration. The higher clay contents of the substrate compared with other rust-brown soils lead to the particularly intensive rust coloration, since clay contains iron, which precipitates as rust-coloured Fe(III) mineral during clay weathering.

Ecology

The soils are deeply decalcified, acidic and usually low in nutrients due to the low clay content. They are coarse-pored, well ventilated and have low usable field capacity and high water conductivities. They are often used as forest sites and are planted with undemanding tree species.

 

Pararendzina
Lupe

Classification

Deutsche Bodensystematik: Pararendzina

USDA soil taxonomy: Umbrept

WRB: Calcaric Regosol

Genesis

Pararendzines are Ah-C soils that are formed from carbonate-rich loose rock. Soil-forming processes are humus accumulation and decalcification. However, the A horizon of the Pararendzina is not completely decalcified. The profile shown was created from loess mixed with limestone debris.

Ecology

The soils have high pH values ​​and are therefore biologically very active. Due to the loose storage of the source rock they show increased rootability and fertility. However, the high pH levels which are caused by limestone may cause trace nutrient deficiency, especially Mn deficiency.

 

Braunerde
Lupe

Classification

Deutsche Bodensystematik: Weakly podzolised brown earth soil from boulder sand

USDA soil taxonomy: Orchrept

WRB: Dystric Cambisol

Genesis

The soil profile shown here is genetically very similar to the weakly podzolized brown soil described above, although the two soils seem to be very different at first sight. Here the soil-forming starting material contains hardly any clay, so that less brown colouring iron minerals are formed during pedogenesis than in the soil shown above.

Ecology

The ecological characteristics of this soil are similar to those described above. Due to the very low clay content, however, the nutrient reserves are even lower, so that the fertility of this soil is even lower than that of the podzolized brown earth described above.

 

Eisenhumspodsol
Lupe

Classification

Deutsche Bodensystematik: Eisenhumspodsol

USDA soil taxonomy: Humod

WRB: Carbic Podzol

Genesis

Podzols show bleached Ae horizons that are poor in iron and aluminum minerals. The mobilization of the metals in the Ae horizon is carried out by organic acids. Among the Ae horizons are Bh, Bs or Bsh horizons in which the metals washed out from the topsoils are enriched. Eisenhumuspodsole are typical soils on the sandy sediments of the northwest German lowland. They are particularly massive on deep, dry sands under Calluna heathland.

Ecology

Podzols are heavily acidified, quartz-rich soils with very low nutrient reserves. Due to the sandy texture, they are soils with low water holding capacity. Usually, they are covered with forests. In the case of artificial irrigation and fertilization, however, these soils, which were formerly considered uncultivable, may also provide high agricultural yields.

 

Paradendzina
Lupe

Classification

Deutsche Bodensystematik: Paradendzina over fossil, capped brown earth

USDA soil taxonomy: Umbrept

WRB: Calcaric Regosol

Genesis

The soil shown here is a typical city soil from anthropogenic deposits. According to the German Soil Classification System, such soils are assigned to natural soils according to their horizon differentiation. Here, a Pararendzina has arisen from anthropogenic, carbonated loose sediment. Scraps of construction debris and broken glass testify to the origin of the subsoil, which was poured onto a former brown earth soil after the topsoil had been removed. Therefore, the fossil Bv horizon of the brown soil without a fAh horizon follows directly the yCv2 horizon.

Ecology

The ecological properties of soils from anthropogenic substrates are generally similar to those from soils resulting from natural substrates with the same level of development. Therefore, the statements derived above for the Pararendzina also apply here. However, anthropogenic deposits often show high levels of pollutants and inhomogeneities of texture and structure at a small scale, which can adversely affect the chemical and physical properties of the resulting soils.

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