Master Naturalists

Master Naturalists

Envirothon Soil Topics

Soil Soil Formation Soil Texture Soil Color Organic Matter pH Salinity

Soil Air Compaction/Shrink-Swell Drainage Erosion Soil Surveys Typical Loamy Soil Air Water Mineral Organic

Typical Clayey Soil Air Water Mineral Organic Typical Sandy Soil Air Water

Mineral Organic Forming Factors Climate Living Organisms

Parent Material Topography Time Climate Most influential factor Temperature and precipitation in particular Determines the nature and speed of formation

High Heat, High humidity, abundant rain=a lot of power Living Organisms Plants and animals Grasses vs trees Microorganisms Parent Material Geology Gulf Coast was a fluvial

deltaic system Soils are derived from loamy and clayey sediments About 14,000 years old Topography Nearly level Slope occurs along drainage Time

Soils on flood plains and coast line are youngest Stable landscapes have older soils Takes about 500 years to form an inch of soil from hard parent material Texture USDA

% of Sand, Silt and Clay Key factor chemically and physically 100% Clay 10 90

20 80 30 70 40 60

Percent Clay Percent Silt 50 50 60 40 70

30 80 20 90 10 20

30 40 50 60 70 80

90 0% 10 Sa nd Percent Sand 10 0%

S il t 10 Clayey Soils High Shrink-Swell High Organic Content High Water Holding Capacity Agriculturally

productive Difficult to work with Sandy Soil High pore space Low organic matter Low fertility

Low water holding capacity Easy to work with Loamy Soil Wide array of soils Low to High Fertility Low to High Organic content Low to High Water Holding Content Moderate to work with

Soil Color Dark=high organic content Light=low organic content Red, yellow, brown is well drained Gray could mean excessive wetness Dark= High Organic

Most clayey soils in our area are dark and have high organic content Light=Low organic content <1 percent Most loamy and sandy soils in our area are low in organic content

Well Drained High on the landscape Ridges and sloping areas Yellow, red or brown Black is usually well drained Gray Could Be Wet Gray surface Contains mottles

(oxidized or reduced iron) Concave landscape Wet soils could be associated with wetlands! Organic Matter Accumulation of partially decomposed plant and animal residues

Loosens soil Nutrient source for plants Increases water holding capacity Food for microbes Soil Organic Matter Highest in the surface where the majority of biotic activity occurs Important to stockpile

surface layer Easily destroyed when disturbed Increasing Organic Content Warm and humid conditions are ideal for microorganisms Constant struggle Leave grass clippings, leaves, and twigs Add mulch

Organic Matter Considerations Carbon to Nitrogen ratio Microbes use nitrogen to eat carbon Could cause nitrogen deficiency in plants

Add nitrogen fertilizer Will correct over time Use good compost Soil pH Ideal pH range is 5.5 to 7.5

pH >8.5 could mean high salt content pH<4 Aluminum and Iron toxicity pH meters Add lime for soils less than 5.5 and sulfur for soils above 7.5 Local soils are in good pH range Best to not get too worried about changing pH Salinity A localized problem on Gulf Coast Almost all soils have

some salinity Causes soil to become hard Damages roots and stunts plants Damages steel Soil Air Well aerated soils support better plant growth Mechanical aerator Incorporate organic matter into the soil for

a long term solution Soil Compaction Occurs in high traffic areas Occurs when soils are manipulated when wet Plowing or incorporating organic matter decreases compaction Minimize hazard of compaction by having a good thick layer of mulch

on surface Shrink and Swell All clayey soils do it Swell when wet and shrink when dry $$$$$ to fix damage Soil Drainage Classes Very poorly DrainedWater is at or near the surface during much of the growing season Poorly drainedThe soil is wet at shallow depths

periodically during the growing season or remains wet for long periods. Somewhat Poorly drainedThe soil is wet at a shallow depth for significant periods during the growing season. Moderately Well drainedWater is removed from the soil somewhat slowly during some periods of the year Well drainedWater is removed from the soil readily, but not rapidly. Somewhat Excessively DrainedWater is removed from the soil rapidly. Excessively DrainedWater is removed from the soil very rapidly.

Drainage Poorly drained soils are gray with oxidized iron zones Concave landscapes Usually have water loving plants Drainage Well drained are brown, yellow or red and most

black soils Convex landscapes Avoid making depressions if you want the soil to stay well drained Erosion Soil moved by wind or water Occurs in high traffic areas where surface vegetation is gone

Areas with more than 3 percent slope are susceptible Mulch and terraces (anything to slow wind and water down) Soil Surveys An inventory of soils that includes maps, interpretative tables, and soil descriptions

for use in general land use planning Using a Soil Survey Locate your area of interest in the soil map section Identify all of the soil map unit symbols at your area of interest How to Use Soil Surveys

Go to the table that contain the information you seek Find your map unit symbol and then find the land use practice Table provides information on suitability for that soil for that particular land practice References

The Nature and Properties of Soils by N.C. Brady NRCS Soils https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/ soils/home/ Natural Resources Conservation Service Texas http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/tx/home/ Soil Data Access http://sdmdataaccess.nrcs.usda.gov/ TAMU Department of Soil and Crop Sciences http://soilcrop.tamu.edu Contacts USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service

Rosenberg: 281-232-6898 ext 3 Angleton: 979-549-0235 Temple State Soils Staff: 254-742-9850 Rosenberg Soil Survey Office: 281-232-4668 ext 124

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