Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Favourite Soil: Spolic Anthroposols

Spolic Anthroposols: Fancy name for a very messy mixed-up soil

An Anthroposol is a soil that humans have extensively modified. They are usually moved around, mixed up, stuff added to them, made especially for hoticulture, mineral materials with urban waste, or are 100% made by humans. They have been modified so much, that they no longer represent the original soil in any way.

A Spolic Anthroposol is a soil that humans have modified using heavy machinery (bull dozers, graders). Usually  they are made during construction, mining, dam buidling and other works where lots of soil is moved around. They also usually include rocks and other stuff (plastic, plant waste, glass, mining waste), which was not in the original soil.

You can usually find them in big heaps, on the side of roads and highways, at dams, in mines, in your backyard, and just about anywhere in cities and towns. It is probably even the soil in your veggie garden.

Why are they my favourite soils?

Spolic soils look rad! 
The nature of the spolic soil is totally random because they have been mixed up, moved around and stuff added to them. They have different soils, colours, pieces and bits everywhere, in no particular order. They are just a mass of stuff. This in contrast to most other soils which usually have clear horizons (layers of soil with certain colour, texture and structure) which follow standard soil classification systems. Spolic soils are beautiful and every one is unique and interesting to look at.

We don't know much about them
Spolic soils are very interesting to study because they are non-standard. Most soils can be classified and understood using standard guidelines, methods and classification systems. However, the random nature of spolic soils means that they do not fit inside the standard ways of understanding soils. Instead, they require individual thought, care and understanding. And as every spolic soil is unique, you will always come across something new and interesting when looking at them. 

They are important for rehabilitation of ecosystems and environment
It is particularly important to understand and research spolic soils, as they are quite often used to restore ecosystems in areas that have had mining, road work, or building. Understanding these soils is important for getting conditions right for plant growth, and the establishment of habitats for animals.

I love spolic soils, because they are interesting and unique. And I like to call spolic soils 'the mess of the soil world'!

What is your favourite soil?

Email me with your Favourite Soil story: jess (dot) drake (at) gmail (dot) com

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