Soil Profile

Soil Profile Definition

“Soil profile is defined as the vertical section of the soil from the ground surface downwards to where the soil meets the underlying rock.”

What is Soil Profile?

The soil is the topmost layer of the earth’s crust mainly composed of organic minerals and rock particles that support life. A soil profile is a vertical cross-section of the soil, made of layers running parallel to the surface. These layers are known as soil horizons.

Soil Profile

The soil is arranged in layers or horizons during its formation. These layers or horizons are known as the soil profile. It is he vertical section of the soil that is exposed by a soil pit. The layers of soil can easily be identified by the soil colour and size of soil particles. The different layers of soil are:

  • Topsoil
  • Subsoil
  • Parent rock

Each layer of soil has distinct characteristics.

Soil profile helps in determining the role of the soil as well. It helps one to differentiate the given sample of soil from other soil samples based on factors like its colour, texture, structure, and thickness, as well as its chemical composition.

Also referMinerals In The Soil And Soil Pollution

Read on to explore what is soil profile and the different layers of soil that make up the soil profile.

Layers of Soil

The soil profile is composed of a series of horizons or layers of soil stacked one on top of the other. These layers or horizons are represented by letters O, A, E, C, B and R.

The O-Horizon

The O horizon is the upper layer of the topsoil which is mainly composed of organic materials such as dried leaves, grasses, dead leaves, small rocks, twigs, surface organisms, fallen trees, and other decomposed organic matter. It contains about 20 to 30% of organic matter. This horizon of soil is often black brown or dark brown in colour and this is mainly because of the presence of organic content.

The A-Horizon or Topsoil

This layer is rich in organic material and is known as the humus layer. This layer consists of both organic matter and other decomposed materials. The topsoil is soft and porous to hold enough air and water.

In this layer, the germination of seeds takes place and new roots are produced which grows into a new plant. This layer consists of microorganisms such as earthworms, fungi, bacteria, etc.

The E-Horizon

This layer is composed of nutrients leached from the O and A horizons. This layer is more common in forested areas and has lower clay content.

The B-Horizon or Subsoil

It is the subsurface horizon, present just below the topsoil and above the bedrock. It is comparatively harder and compact than topsoil. It contains less humus, soluble minerals, and organic matter. It is a site of deposition of certain minerals and metal salts such as iron oxide.

This layer holds enough water than the topsoil and is lighter brown due to the presence of clay soil. The soil of horizon-A and horizon-B is often mixed while ploughing the fields.

The C-Horizon or Saprolite

This layer is devoid of any organic matter and is made up of broken bedrock. This layer is also known as saprolite. The geological material present in this zone is cemented.

The R-Horizon

It is a compacted and cemented layer. Different types of rocks such as granite, basalt and limestone are found here.

Explore more about: Preparation of Soil for Agriculture

To know more about soil profile and different layers of soil, keep visiting BYJU’S website.

Frequently Asked Questions on Soil Profile

What is Soil Profile?

The soil profile is a vertical section of the soil that depicts all of its horizons. The soil profile extends from the soil surface to the rock material.

How is Soil Formed?

Soil is mainly formed by the breakdown of bigger rocks into smaller and fine particles with the continuous action of wind, rain and other agents of natural force. It takes hundreds to thousands of years for the formation of soil.

What are the basic components of Soil?

Air, water, minerals and other organic matter are the basic components of soil.

What is the importance of Soil Profile?

The soil profile plays an important role in maintaining the fertility of the soil and the nutrition content in the soil.

What are the horizons of soil?

The soil profiles are composed of a series of horizons or layers of soil, which are stacked one above the other. The 4 horizons of soil are:
The O-Horizon
The A-Horizon
The B-Horizon
The C-Horizon

What is Topsoil?

The topsoil is the topmost layer of the soil. It is dark brown coloured soil which mainly consists of organic matter, decomposed material and many living organisms including some microbes, earthworms and other worms.

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