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.
New Zealand Soil Classification (NZSC)
New Zealand legacy systems
US Soil Taxonomy (ST)
World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB)
Soils are not just dirt! We often think so, because soils are hidden below-ground, out of sight. But did you know that soils are home to over one quarter of all living species? Or that globally soils are the largest terrestrial carbon pool? Soils also clean our drinking water, are a source of raw materials, and form three-dimensional archives of our natural and cultural history.
TeAo Māori: relationships with soil
Find out about the mana of the soil, and soil health from a kaupapa Māori perspective. Māori have had a long connection with and understanding of soil, reaching back centuries to Polynesian migration. The knowledge (mātauranga Māori, mōhiotanga, māramatanga, tohungatanga) is ancient, traditional, and historical as well as contemporary.
Soil surveys have been carried out by Manaaki Whenua and its predecessor organisations since the early 1930s. Find out why soil surveys are being done, what actually happens during surveys, and what kind of products they generate.
We have a history of more than 80 years of soils research and a vast knowledge base has accumulated during that time. These pages highlight the various types of soil data available, and how to access them.
Soil health and soil quality
Soil health and soil quality are broad concepts that describe the state of the soil and whether a soil is well suited to how it is being used. The two terms are often used interchangeably although some maintain there is a difference between the two. This section dives into our research on soil health and resilience, how soil quality/soil health is being monitored in New Zealand, and what conclusions we can draw from this for national soil health.
Soil functions - the basics
Soil provides ecological functions too important to be overlooked. Shelter for plants and animals, guardian of groundwater, source of our food, forage, and fibre and an archive of natural history and human heritage.