1 June 2023

The soil profile is a study that is carried out through a vertical cut of the ground that allows carrying out a complete analysis of it, with which essential information about the soil can be obtained, for example if it is optimal for agriculture or for construction.

If you want to know more about what it is, what are the layers of this profileits characteristics and importance, here we teach you!

Definition and meaning of “soil profile”

In geology, the soil profile is defined as a vertical cut in the terrain that is made to have a full description of it.

When studying the generating processes that have been created in a certain soil, and the different layers of soil that are created over the years, it is essential to have a study that allows us to appreciate the arrangement of the set of layers parallel to each other. For this, it is necessary to make a vertical cut that goes from topsoil to bedrockreason for which it is possible to appreciate all the horizons.

Now, it is known as “soil horizon” to each of the layers that it has, allowing it to be identified and differentiated through its composition, texture, water content, color, structure, abundant minerals, etc.

To have a good evaluation of the soil profile it is necessary that the soil is very mature, since they have well-defined horizons. Yeah the ground is youngthe structures that make up each horizon cannot be clearly identified.

What is the stratigraphic profile of the soil?

A stratigraphic profile of the soil is a graphic representation of continuity that has the arrangement of the various soil layers, as well as the location and characteristics of each of the horizons can be observed in more depth.

For this, a study of its geological time is made through various analytical and manual methodologies. In these, an analysis of the strata overlapthe principles of uniformity, faunal succession, among others.

One of the main characteristics of this profile is that it is organized by erassince the oldest soil is found in the lower part, while on the surface we find the young and, in most cases, fertile soil.

What are the layers of a soil profile?

When studying the soils and their composition, we will see that the soil profile is classified into three big layers:

  • The bottom layer: This is the one found deeper, since it is the one that touches the parent rocks. It is considered to be the oldest part of the soil and it is full of completely disintegrated rock fragments, so it does not have any type of nutrient.
  • the middle layer: It is characterized by being the part of the soil that is composed of clay, medium-sized stones, air and a little water. Mostly in this area of ​​the soil are stored the tree roots and some plants. In this you can see a rustic terrain.
  • top layer: It is the one that is found in the external part of the soil and that pwe can easily appreciate. It is made up of mulch, sand, water, air, humus and leaves, thus allowing plants to grow and life to develop.

Likewise, each of these layers is determined by a horizon, which are:

  • The A-horizon: It is part of the upper layer of the soil and, therefore, the darkest layer, since it has a high amount of organic material. In this humus is formed through the waste and residues of animals and plants that grow in this part of the soil. This layer is essential for agriculture and for the formation of life due to the large amount of organic matter.
  • the B-horizon: Also know as subsoilis the part of the soil that contains the soluble minerals and materials like clay. It is light brown in color, due to the fact that it has a lower content of organic material. Likewise, it stores a lot of water and iron residues, and it lacks humus.
  • The C horizon: It is made up of the highest part of all the rocky material, that is, it is the part on which the ground rests. This it is semi fragmentedsince it has undergone a chemical and mechanical alteration, making it difficult to identify certain elements that compose it.
  • The R horizon: It is where the mother rock is located, full of rock material that has not undergone any type of significant chemical or physical alteration.
  • the E horizon: It is one of the parts of the soil that is not present on the entire planet Earth, because it is a response to eluviation. It is characterized by its clear tonality and by its poor lamellar development.
  • The horizon O: It is the most superficial part of the soil, located before the A horizon.

What are the characteristics of the soil profile?

  • It is a vertical cut that allows describing and studying the edaphologists in order to carry out a complete analysis of a certain soil.
  • The cuts that are made for the soil profile samples tend to be between a meter or two deepas long as the parent rock does not show up before.
  • a floor can come to have a single horizon and even two. It is not necessary for a single section to show the various types of horizons. Even, not all profiles must be made up of several horizons.
  • young soils do not allow your profile is studied correctlysince not enough time has passed for the macromorphological structures to form.
  • Some biological or chemical processes can cause the soil becomes homogeneousthat is to say, that lose some of their morphological structures. Reason why, the analysis of the profile will not be very clear.

How is the soil profile classified? – Guys

The soil profile is classified in 6 types of soilswhich are:

  • Clayey: The clayey soil is one in which clay predominates over any other particle of other sizes, being common in the B horizon. It is characterized by having a great capacity to retain water, however this quality can be counterproductive for cropssince having a lot of humidity it usually has aeration and drainage problems, which makes them easily flooded.
  • Sandy: It is a type of soil that is made up of a granular texture that can reach up to 50 cm deep, which is why they have a very low amount of nutrients. This type of soil does not retain water, so it is terrible for retaining any type of structure. It is characterized by not having nutritional or colloidal properties. They are very undesirable when they show up inside the soil profile.
  • Frank: It is the superficial part of the terrain that has a quantitative composition that are in an optimum ratio or very close to it. This type of soil is sought for agricultural production because it has a fairly loose texture, allowing plants to grow better. They also have high fertility levels.
  • humiferous: It is a type of soil rich in organic matter that is in the process of decomposing, so the earth is quite dark. It has the quality of retaining water very well, in addition to allowing the passage of air between the earth, being ideal for agriculture.
  • Slimy: It presents characteristics similar to sandy soil, due to the fact that are created thanks to the same materials. However, they differ in that the silt has a lower drainage capacity, so it has more water. It is a soft and sticky soil.
  • Rocky: It is a soil that very rarely can be found in the A or B horizon, since it is composed mainly of rocks. Naturally, it is only possible to find it in a rocky biomewhich is not common.

What is the importance of a soil profile?

The importance of the soil profile lies in the fact that it allows us to have more knowledge of the state of the same. This is a study that is essential for construction, since it prevents buildings from being built in places whose soils may be shifting and end up putting people at risk.

In addition, it is essential, in turn, in the area of ​​agriculturesince it allows to determine if the soil is apt or ideal to carry out the cultivation of certain plant species, etc.

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