Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Soils: Podzol

Each week, I will update this blog with information on a type of soil found in Ireland.
The largest area of soil in Ireland is referred to as a Podzol Soil. The name is Russian, and means "under ash." This name is accurate since this type of soil is associated with boreal arctic forests. The soil is rich in quartz, but can have indications of mineral leaching (probably from the high pH.) There are four soil profiles typically associated with Podzol: O, E, B, and C. The soil profiles are simular to the ones used in the US. O is for organic matter, E is eluviated, B is the subsoil, and C is the parent material.
From the picture, the leaching of minerals, such as Aluminum, can be seen right under the layer of organic matter on the top. This soil is very pretty, but can be tough for farmers.
For agriculture, there can be issues when trying to plant on this type of soil. For instance, boreal forests tend to have a high concentration of pine trees. These pine trees excrete a large amount of allopathic compounds. These compounds, which are typically found towards the top of the soil and are associated with organic matter, can damage crops. Since the pH can be rather alkaline, there can also be problems with nutrient availability as well. Another issue is the quartz layer, soil profile C. The soil might be well worn, and this soil layer can have a nasty impact to the roots of the plants or farm equipment if they go too deep.

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