Soil taxonomy

An Overview

Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, microbes, water, air and other small living organisms. This soil is mainly formed from the process of rock weathering.

In general, soil can be defined as a porous medium, developed in the uppermost layer of Earth’s crust.

There are various types of soil that withstand several environmental stresses or pressure including landslides, erosion, volcanoes, etc. Soil is mainly classified by its proportions, texture and different forms of organic and mineral compositions.

There are different types of soil, which are mainly classified based on their properties, texture and their compositions. The four different types of soil include- sandy soil, silt soil, clay soil and loamy soil.

Explore more: Types of Soil

What is Soil taxonomy?

Taxonomy is a scientific process of classification based on their respective properties. Similar to animals and plants, the soil is also classified into different types based on their properties. The study of this soil classification is termed as soil taxonomy.

This system of soil classification is classified by the National Cooperative Soil Survey of the United States and is mainly used for soil mapping. This classification system comprises six categories or levels:



Great group




In the order level, there are ten classes of soils.


They are the permanently frozen soils, which are abundantly found at extremely high elevations, including the Antarctic and Arctic regions. In plants, this soil influences the downward movement of water and it comprises about 10 to 12 per cent of the Earth’s glacier-free land surface.


This soil mainly consists of organic matter in their upper portion and are mainly formed by the decomposition of organic matter, dried leaves, twigs, grass and mosses with the help of microbes present in the soil. This type of soil is highly productive for farmlands.


This soil is formed from the weathering of volcanic materials and holds a huge quantity of both nutrients and water, hence making these soils very productive and fertile.


This type of soil is abundantly found in the tropical and subtropical regions. They are the great deposits of iron oxides and quartz. This soil is not suitable for gardens or other plantations as they are very poor in nutrients and have low fertility.


This is a clay type of soil that has the capacity to shrink and swell.


This type of soil is formed from a mixture of salt, gypsum or carbonates. They are abundantly found in both hot and cold deserts, which occupy about 10 to 12 per cent of the Earth’s glacier-free land area, including the dry valleys of Antarctica. They are very low in fertility, hence cannot be used for plants.


These are the highly fertile soil with the deposition of calcium and magnesium. This type of soil is found in grassland, therefore, also referred to as grassland soil.


This type of soil is found under forest vegetation with a similar climatic region. They are extended soil and occupy approximately 15 to 18 per cent of the Earth’s glacier-free covering.


It is the last and the lowest order in soil taxonomy with no soil development. They are present on the topsoil horizon and occur in areas where deposition is faster than the rate of soil development.

Explore more: What is Soil?

This article concludes an introduction to soil taxonomy. To know more about soil taxonomy, other related topics and important questions, keep visiting our website at BYJU’S Biology

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