Types of Soil in Mississippi

The types of soil in Mississippi are diverse, comprising seven of the known 12 soil orders in the United States. That is because of the climate differences that occur from the cooler north to the warmer south. Mississippi also has a range of materials and topography that helps create the variety of soil types. The age of the soil types range in the young Holocene of the Delta region to the very old Cretaceous-period soils farther north.

Histosols

This type of soil is made of mostly organic material including plant remains. Look for this soil type in areas where drainage is restricted and decomposed plant and animal remains build up over time. Commonly referred to as peat or muck, this soil can be found in freshwater, brackwater and tidal marshes in the coastal areas of Mississippi along the Gulf of Mexico. Identify the soil by the amount of plant remains in it, sometimes up to half of the soil content.

Spodosols

Look for this type of soil in southern Mississippi. This is an acidic soil that accumulates humus under the surface. Identify the soil by the light coloration of the top overlaying a reddish-brown coloration. Spodosols are often found supporting forest areas. Lime is added to reduce the acidity of this soil for agricultural purposes.

Vertisols

This is a clay rich soil which condense or expand with the change in moisture. Look for this soil to condense and produce wide cracks when dried out. Common locations include slackwater and low lying areas such as the Mississippi alluvial plain.

Ultisols

This soil type is an old acidic forest soil. Look for this type of Mississippi soil in central and upper coastal plains. Hard clay accumulates under the surface of this soil, which can be identified by the yellow to red coloration. Common names include "red clay" or "red dirt." Use fertilizer and lime to use this soil type for continuous agricultural needs.

Alfisols

Look for this type of soil throughout Mississippi, but it is most common along the border of the alluvial plain. This soil can also be found on ridges and ridge bottoms and is the most common soil of the interior flatwoods area of the state. Alfisols are good for moderately leached forests but can be used for agricultural production.

Inceptisols

This type of soil is one of the youngest types among the soil orders. Look for this soil type on steep slopes or newer geological areas. This soil is used mainly in mountainous areas, specifically in forestry, watershed and recreation projects. Most of the barrier islands and gulf coast of Mississippi is made of this type of soil, including sand and mud bars.

Entisols

Look for this type of soil in the steep rocky areas of Mississippi. Stream drainage areas and river valleys are prime areas to find this soil type. This is the most useful soil for agricultural purposes.

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