The main soil of the steppes. Chernozem and its main properties
Every spring we put seeds into it, and by autumn we get a generous harvest in return. What is soil? What explains its fertility? What features are different soil steppe - a natural zone in the temperate zone of the Earth? We will try to answer all these questions in our article.
What is soil?
Soil (soil) is the upper layer of the lithosphere, a special natural body formed at the junction of several geospheres of our planet. It consists of mineral particles, organic matter, air, moisture, various neoplasms and inclusions.
The key property of the soil is its fertility. After all, it can produce up to 90% of all food products. In addition, the soil is a natural habitat for a large number of living organisms - insects, spiders, worms, bacteria, fungi, and even some mammals. One meter of cubic soil can contain several million organisms!
The soil has a layered structure. It consists of several horizontal layers:
- forest litter or turf (A0) - the upper ball of the soil;
- humus horizon (A1) - it is the thickness of this layer that determines the total fertility of a particular soil;
- The eluvial horizon (A2) is the layer where the leaching of substances occurs;
- the illuvial horizon (B) is the layer where the inducing of substances takes place;
- maternal rock (C).
The well-known scientist and naturalist Vasily Dokuchaev was the first to establish that the soil is a unique and rather complex natural formation. An outstanding geologist identified five major factors of soil formation. These are climate, topography, maternal breed, flora and fauna, as well as time. By the way, V. V. Dokuchaev in his works mainly investigated the soils of the steppe zone.
Steppe as a natural zone of the Earth
The steppe is a natural zone that is located in temperate latitudes of the predominantly Northern Hemisphere and consists of grassy grass vegetation. The climate of this zone is distinguished by high evaporation, a small amount of average annual precipitation and huge thermal resources.The frost-free period here lasts up to 220 days a year.
The world's largest steppe range stretches from the Romanian Dobrudja in the west through Southern Ukraine, the Kuban and Kazakhstan to the foothill areas of Altai and the Tien Shan in the east. The second significant “spot” of the spread of steppe landscapes is in North America. These are the so-called prairies, which occupy vast expanses in the central states of the United States.
What is the soil in the steppe? We will answer this question in the following sections of our article.
The main soil of the steppes (list)
So, we have already figured out what steppe is and where this natural zone is located. Now let's find out what types of soils are common here.
Steppe soils formed in a continental arid climate, mainly on clay rocks and under dense grassy vegetation. These soils are distinguished by a powerful humus horizon (sometimes up to 80-100 cm), and hence the highest fertility.
The most common soil in the steppe is chernozem. In addition, a number of other genetic types of soil are distinguished here:
- salt marshes and salt marshes.
Chernozem and its main properties
Chernozem - the main type of soil in the steppe, in some ways - a key symbol of this natural area. It is formed on loess or loess-like loams, it has a dark color and is distinguished by its granular structure. The humus content in chernozem ranges from 4 to 9%. The name of the soil comes from the Russian phrase "black earth".
The main chernozem belt of the planet covers the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, Ukraine, the Volga region, the Southern Urals and Mongolia. Russia is the leader in terms of the area of these soils in the world (52%). The second place is occupied by Ukraine (about 9%).
The main enemies of the chernozem soil are water and wind erosion. Every year, these adverse natural processes turn millions of hectares of land into unsuitable agricultural land. To protect the fertile soils from these processes, a system of special measures was developed, including, in particular, the creation of protective forest belts along fields and lands.
Other steppe soil
Chestnut soils are also widespread in the steppe zone. They are formed in conditions of minimal moisture and sparse vegetation.The humus content in such soils rarely exceeds 3%. To obtain high yields, these soils need additional moisture.
Brown soils are formed in a moderately warm climate in those areas where oak or hornbeam forests grow. This primer is easily recognizable by the brown shade, which gradually brightens downwards.
In the steppes, salt licks are also often found (soils that are confined to subarid areas and have a high sodium content in their horizons) and solonchaks (soils oversaturated with salts).