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Types of Soil in Australia

blue mountains, Australia image by rese3282 from

Australia's soil is composed of several different types, each distinguished by its consistency, primary materials, surrounding environment and climate. The Australian soil-classification system is specifically formulated to differentiate between the many types of dry soil found on the continent.


These soils are not very common in Australia, but are nevertheless locally important due to their agricultural potential. They are not acidic and contain silica.


Calcarosols are alkaline due to the presence of calcium carbonate. They are not fertile and have fairly low agricultural potential. They often contain excessive salt and boron. These soils are found primarily in south Australia near the coast.


These dark soils are fertile, retain adequate amounts of water and contain low levels of iron. They have good agricultural potential.


As indicated by the name of the order, Ferrosols are very rich in iron. This mineral gives the soils a red appearance, especially in the subsurface levels. These soils are good for agriculture due to their high fertility and water retention capacity. They are relatively rare in Australia but can be found in small pockets near the northwestern and northeastern coasts.


A significant characteristic of these soils is that there is not a distinct border between topsoil and subsoil; rather, the two layers merge into one another. They have moderate fertility and retain water to a sufficient degree for agriculture.


These soils are highly acidic, particularly on the surface. They are deficient in the chemicals necessary for plentiful plant growth, and are therefore unsuitable for agriculture. Kurosols also do not hold water well.


Podosols contain large amounts of organic matter, but are nevertheless unsuitable for agriculture. They are acidic and sandy, have low fertility and do not hold much water.


Rudosols are distributed widely throughout Australia. They are not well developed and can be very gravelly. Depending on their individual characteristics, they may be useful for cultivation.


Sodosols contain high amounts of sodium and are found in poorly drained areas. They are susceptible to erosion and have low to moderate fertility. All of these factors make this soil unsuitable for agriculture. This kind of soil is fairly common in Australia and is distributed throughout the continent.


These soils are sandy and can be found throughout Australia, especially in the western half of the continent. They are very infertile, do not hold water and are susceptible to contamination from groundwater. They are not suitable for agriculture.


Vertosols are very common in the western half of the continent. They are rich in clay and tend to crack when the amount of water in the soil changes. The soil absorbs a lot of water, meaning that agriculture can be difficult without plentiful rain or irrigation. Nevertheless, these soils are fertile and quite suitable for agriculture.

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