Describing Soils

The New Zealand Soil Classification (NZSC)

The New Zealand Soil Classification was developed in the 1980s

(Current System)

The top three levels of the classification (orders, groups, and subgroups) are defined by Hewitt (2010), the fourth and fifth levels (family and sibling) by Webb and Lilburne (2011). The fourth level (soilforms) by Clayden and Webb (1994) were replaced by the family and sibling. The new classification grew out of the New Zealand Genetic Soil Classification and, where possible, preserved its useful features. The new classification was also influenced by local experience in testing the United States soil classification system "Soil Taxonomy" (Soil Survey Staff 1975, 1996; Leamy et al. 1983).

For taxonomist and students of soils science, a document on methods and rationale of the NZSC has been compiled (Hewitt 1993).

The resulting classification represents the best attempt to classify New Zealand soils, at our current state of knowledge. As knowledge and understanding of soils grows, further revisions will be necessary.