One of the first things you probably learned about plants was that they needed certain things to live and grow — water, sunlight, and soil. Plants use these to live and grow and each has its own job in the larger system. This section takes a closer look at soil.
What is soil?
How is soil formed?
The Survey Says!
To understand the soil of an area, soil scientists take samples from many locations. These samples are part of a larger study called a soil survey. A soil survey is a carefully planned study of the soils in an area. The scientists examine, describe, classify and map the soils.
A soil profile is one part of a formal soil survey. A soil profile shows and describes the layers of the soil just below the surface of the earth. This profile is one tool used to classify the soils of the area. REAL TREE growers are able to use this classification when deciding what trees to purchase and plant for their crops.
To create a soil profile, pedologists look at a cross-section of the land. In this cross-section, they can observe and describe each layer or horizon they see. There are about five or six identified horizons that the soil scientists look for.
Important Note: The horizons in each area will be different in type and amount. Below shows one example and gives information about five general horizon layers.
The earth has a limited amount of land that is usable for growing crops. Understanding the composition of the soil allows REAL TREE growers to plant trees that will grow well in their area.
Each grower is dependent on the amount and quality of the soil on their operation. The information in this section is just a start to the knowledge that experienced growers use to make good decisions about this very complex natural resource.