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Basic Soils Classification

Following is a very brief introduction to soils classification. Soils are classified using an objective and comprehensive system. In the U.S. and many other countries, this classification is based on the manual Soil Taxonomy, A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys, published by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. A copy of this manual (871 pages in length) can be downloaded or viewed online. The purpose of this brief overview of the soils classification system is to put local area information into a larger context.

You may be familiar with the taxonomic classification for all living things (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). Similarly, soils are classified using a standard, hierarchical system. The six categories in soils classification are:

Link to basic information on each of the 12 soil orders.

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