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Soil Classification In The Soil Survey Of England And Wales

B. W. Avery
Published 1973 · Geology

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Summary The development of soil classification as a basis for soil mapping in England and Wales is briefly reviewed, and a system for future use is described. The things classified are soil profiles, and classes are defined by relatively permanent characteristics that can be observed or measured in the field, or inferred within limits from field examination by comparison with analysed samples. Profile classes are defined at four categorical levels by progressive division, and are termed major groups, groups, subgroups, and soil series respectively. Classes in the three higher categories are defined partly by the composition of the soil material and partly by the presence or absence of particular diagnostic horizons, or evidence of recent alluvial origin, within specified depths. Soil series are distinguished by other characteristics, chiefly lithologic, not differentiating in higher categories. Most of the soil groups, regarded as the principal category above the soil series, are closely paralleled in other European systems, in the U.S.D.A. system (7th Approximation with subsequent amendments), or in both. Compared with the system used hitherto, the main innovations are the use of specific soil properties to define classes at all categorical levels, and the separation at group level of classes based primarily on inherited lithologic characteristics. The soil-profile classification provides a uniform basis for identifying soil map units, considered as classes of delineated soil bodies. When a map unit is identified by the name of a profile class, it is implied that most of the soil in each delineation conforms to that class, and that unconforming inclusions belong to one or more closely related classes or occupy an insignificant proportionate area. Map units identified by land attributes not differentiating in the profile classification are termed phases.
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