Describing Soils

The names people use for soils will always reflect the needs of the day and the understanding people have for the part soil plays in underpinning many of our activities.

These pages attempt to provide background information about the different naming systems that have been used over the years, and, where possible, indicate how they relate to each other.

The New Zealand Soil Classification (NZSC)

The classification represents the best attempt to classify New Zealand soils, at our current state of knowledge.

US Soil Taxonomy (UST)

An elaborate classification of soil types according to several parameters and in several levels: Order, Suborder, Great Group, Subgroup, Family, and Series.

Series Names

Series names are used to distinguish similar soils at a finer level of classification than is possible with either the Genetic or NZSC classifications.

Genetic Soil Classification (New Zealand – legacy system)

NZG recognises "soil groups" and relates them to the environmental factors that most influenced their character.

IPCC Soil Categories

Soils are the largest reservoir of carbon in the terrestrial biosphere and small changes in the reservoir size have major implications for atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

History of Soil Description

A brief history on the development of soil classification systems used in New Zealand and how they relate to those used internationally.