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Soil horizon can be defined as the parallel layer of the soil surface. Each layer has its own composition of physical, chemical and biological characteristics, they quite differ from each of the layers above and beneath each layer. Horizons have definite physical features such as the colour and texture of each layer of the soil. These soil horizons are described both in absolute terms like in terms of the particle size distribution for texture, and in terms, they are relatively ‘coarser’ or ‘sandier’ than all the soil horizons above and below.
In our prevailing section, we will plunge deeper into the Soil Horizon Definition in detail, know about each layer of soil and its benefits.
Horizons of Soil
In this section, we will continue to explain the soil horizons layers.
As studied vividly on the subject ‘the types of the soil’, we know there are varied types of soil, with each one having distinct characteristics. If anyone would dig down deep into any of the soils, one can see the soil is made of layers, or the horizons (O, A, E, B, C, R). Putting the horizons together, they will structure into a soil profile. Each of the profiles informs about the nature of the particular soil which has been dug deep. Majorly these soils have three major horizons that are - A, B, C and some have an organic horizon as well denoted by O. The horizons are:
1. O Horizon Which Contains Hummus or any Organic Matter:
This layer is mostly filled with organic content like the decomposing leaves. The O horizon is particularly thinner in most soils, while thicker in others, also the horizon may not be present at all in other types of soil.
2. A Which is the Topsoil:
Minerals are present in this layer which are generated from the parent material with the organic matter that is being incorporated. This layer serves as a good material for the plants and other organisms to live.
3. E is Known as the Eluviated Layer:
Here clay, minerals, and other organic matter, with a concentration of sand and silt particles of quartz are present. They are mainly found in older soils and forest soils.
4. B the Subsoil Layer:
They are quite rich in minerals, the mineral seeps down from the A or E horizons and gets accumulated in this layer.
5. C the Parent Material:
The deposit is present at the Earth’s surface, this is the place from which actually the soil is originated.
6. R, the Bedrock Layer:
This layer has a mass of rock like granite, basalt, quartzite, limestone and even sandstone, this layer forms the parent material for some soil.
Thus, clearly, the Soil Horizons are explained. In the next section, we will take up each of the layers in the soil profile and determine the quality of the soil that influenced such a layer.
Soil Profile Horizons
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The Different Layers of Soil have different functions to do. While the soil profile is quite defined as the vertical section of the soil which forms the ground surface, this seeps downwards to where the soil meets the underlying bedrocks.
The soil is arranged in layers or in horizons. They are arranged during their formation. The layers or the horizons are basically known as the soil profile. The vertical section of the soil which is exposed by a soil pit is called the soil horizon profile. The layers of soil are easily identified by their colour and texture. In presence, there are soil particles as well. The different layers of soil are as follows:
Each of the soil layers has its respective characteristics.
Layers of Soil
The soil profile consists of the series of the horizon of soil which is layered on to one another. The horizons are represented by the letters O, A, E, C, B and R, also refer to the diagram displayed above.
The uppermost layer of the topsoil is composed of organic materials like dried leaves, grasses, and other decomposed organic matter. This layer of soil is blackish brown or dark brown in colour, the colour is for the content of organic material.
The A-Horizon is also known as the Topsoil
This layer is also rich in organic material and commonly known as the humus layer. This majorly consists of both organic matter and other decomposed type materials. The topsoil is very soft and is thus porous in nature to hold enough air and water.
This layer has nutrients seeped down from the O and A horizons. This layer is very common in forested areas which have low clayey content.
The B-Horizon or Subsoil
This horizon is present just below the topsoil, while above the bedrock. This is comparatively much harder and more compact than the topsoil. This contains less humus, soluble minerals, and organic matter. Rather this is a site of deposition of certain minerals and metal salts like iron oxide.
The C-Horizon, Known as the Saprolite
This layer has an absence of any organic matter and is made up of broken bedrock.
They are the compacted and cemented layer with different types of rocks like granite, basalt and limestone.