Fertile Soil Orders in the United States Video

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  • 0:00 Definition of Terms
  • 1:14 Alfisols & Andisols
  • 2:00 Histosols & Inceptisols
  • 2:37 Mollisols & Oxisols
  • 3:25 Vertisols
  • 3:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson discusses the fertile soil orders found in the United States. It discusses their characteristics and locations while also defining weathering, organic material, and leaching.

Definition of Terms

If you traveled from Alaska to Florida, you'd see some serious differences in vegetation. Interestingly, if you traveled underground, you'd also see some extreme differences in the soils that make vegetation possible. To explain what I mean, today's lesson is going to discuss the different fertile soils of the United States.

Before we get into the names of the soils, we need to nail down some terms often used when discussing soils. First, we have organic material. Organic material is anything that is alive, was once alive, or is a by-product of life. Things like bugs, decomposing roots, and animal waste are all organic materials.

Our next term is weathering. For our purposes, weathering is when the air and weather break down rocks, minerals, and organic materials in the soil. Leaching is our last term. This occurs when minerals dissolve from or through the soil. Things like moisture and precipitation cause leaching.

Now that our terms are out of the way, let's turn to our different types of soil, which are referred to as soil orders. There's a bunch of them, so we'll keep our explanations brief.

Alfisols & Andisols

Alfisols are our first soils. Soils that are alfisols are found in places that are semi-arid to moist. Since they're semi-arid (which means semi-dry) to moist, they provide enough moisture to grow crops and forests. Trying to remember this one, we can say that 'Plants think alfisols are all right!' As for the U.S., alfisols are found in states like Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Andisols are found in areas with lots of precipitation. They're also found in areas with volcanoes. The ash from the volcanoes mixed with precipitation makes for very fertile soil. Found in places like Hawaii, we can remember that 'Andisols get an A+ for growing.'

Histosols & Inceptisols

Soils that are histosols are rich in organic material and full of water. Found in the bogs and swamps of places like Florida and Louisiana, I try to remember that 'Histosols are heavy with water and organic material.'

Inceptisols are soils that have moderate soil development and soil weathering. They are found in a wide variety of climates. In a Goldilocks sort of way, these soils are not too moist and not too dry. I like to say that 'Inceptisols are intermediate soils.' In the U.S., they're found in places like Pennsylvania, New York, Northern California, and the Oregon Coast.

Mollisols & Oxisols

Mollisols are very high in organic material. Mollisols tend to be very dark soils found in grasslands. Making them stand out even more, they're found in areas that undergo seasonal droughts. Located in the Midwestern Plains, we can say that soils classified as 'Mollisols are dark as midnight!'

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