gardening, gardening tips, Greenhouse -

Digging Deeper: Exploring Soil Diversity Across America

If you are an experienced gardener or farmer, then you know how important soil is. In particular, the composition of different soils affects the amount of water storage available in the soil.

Some plants simply cannot grow in certain types of soil. In the United States, there are more than 19,000 soil families. There are usually three major categories, sand, silt, and clay. And the soil classification hierarchy includes orders, suborders, major classes, subclasses, families, and series, with each series representing a unique type of soil. Different types of soils have been compiled for our friends around the country who love gardening. Make the planting afterward easier.

soil map

(USA soil map)
(Photo from researchgate.net)

Also, the type of soil affects the choice of greenhouse kits as different types of soil have different water-holding capacities, drainage rates, and nutrient levels. These factors affect the water and nutrient management of plants grown in the greenhouse, which in turn affects plant growth and yield.

Northeastern Region

The Northeast usually includes nine states, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The climate of the northeastern region

The northeastern United States experiences a variety of weather patterns throughout the year.

In the spring, the region experiences milder temperatures with occasional rain and thunderstorms. The weather during this period can also be unpredictable, with warm days followed by cold snaps.

During the summer months, the region is generally warm and humid. Summers are usually warm in the northern part of the region and hot in the southern part.

In the fall, the region experiences cooler temperatures with occasional rain and wind. In winter, the Northeast experiences cold temperatures and heavy snowfall, especially further inland. Examples include upstate New York and western Maryland. Coastal areas, but, will have milder temperatures, such as southern Rhode Island.

Soil types in the northeastern region

In the northeast, about 60% of the country is covered by forests and there are many parks. And most of the soils in the northeast are divided into five categories.

  • Alfisols: These soils are found in the Appalachian Mountains and consist of moderately weathered soils with high fertility. They are good for agriculture and forestry.
  • Mollisols: Found in the northern Great Plains, the soil characteristics by a thick topsoil layer, dark in color and rich in organic matter. They are among the most fertile soils in the world and are widely used for agriculture.
  • Inceptisols: These soils are found throughout the region and are characterized by a weakly developed soil profile. They are relatively young soils that are still undergoing development and can be good for forestry.
  • Spodosols: These soils are found in sandy regions of the northeast and are characterized by an acidic, infertile subsoil layer known as a spodic horizon. They are generally not good for agriculture but can be used for forestry.
  • Entisols: Present in the coastal plain, the soil characteristics are shallow, undeveloped soil profile. They are generally not very fertile and are not well-suited for agriculture.

The first two soil types are ideal for growing corn, wheat, soybeans, and sorghum.

Northeastern Region

(Northeastern landscape)

Southern Region

The South contains many states. Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The climate of the southern region

The climate in the South is usually hot and humid, with long summers and short, mild winters. Crops are easy to grow in the South because the climate continues to provide a growing season of at least six months before the first frost. The climate in the Southeast is usually considered warm and humid, with mild and rainy winters.

The southwest, on the other hand, has a dry and hot climate, with summers usually very hot and winters with equally mild temperatures. However, there may be snowfall at higher elevations. Furthermore, temperature differences may be more pronounced in the southwest than in the southeast due to differences in topography and elevation.

Soil types in the southern region

The southeastern soils have five categories of Ultisols, Alfisols, Inceptisols, Entisols, and Vertisols.

  • Ultisols are the most common in the Southeast and soil characteristics consist of a subsurface accumulation of clay, called a clay pan.. This can make it difficult for water to penetrate the soil and limit the depth to which roots can grow. The low nutrient content makes them challenging to farm without proper management such as fertilization. They are commonly used to grow crops such as soybeans, peanuts, and cotton.
  • Vertisols, have a high water retention capacity and are usually fertile. But, they can be difficult to cultivate because they tend to crack and shrink during periods of drought. They become sticky and water-soaked during wet periods. Due to their high water-holding capacity, they are suitable for crops that require high water content, such as rice, sugar cane, and cotton.

In the southwest, the soil species are Alfisols, Aridisols, Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, and Vertisols.

  • Aridisols are found in arid desert areas with low rainfall and high evaporation rates. Soil characteristics are lack of organic matter, limited soil development, low water retention capacity, and low nutrient content. They are suitable for growing succulents, which do not require large amounts of water.
Southern Region

(Southern landscape) 

Midwestern Region

The Midwest region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The climate of the midwestern region

Temperatures in the Midwest are characterized by hot, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. The average temperature in the Midwest is about 43.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring. The average temperature in the summer is about 70.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature in the fall is about 48.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The average winter temperature is about 14.0°F.

Soil types in the midwestern region

The soils of the Midwest are fertile and ideal for agriculture, especially in Illinois and Iowa. The main soil types in the Midwest are Alfisols, Mollisols, and Entisols. There are some other kinds of soil.

  • Fluvents, which are high in organic matter and have a fine texture, making them ideal for agriculture. These soils have a good water-holding capacity, which makes them suitable for crops that require regular watering. Examples include vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. These soils are also rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which are essential for plant growth.
  • Antigo is characterized by a sandy texture and a low level of organic matter. The low water holding capacity and infertile nature make them less suitable for agriculture than other types of soils. However, they can be used for certain types of crops, such as potatoes, which can tolerate sandy soils and require less water.
Midwestern Region

(Midwestern landscape)

Western Region

The Western Region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The climate of the western region

Temperatures are very different in the west. The West Coast, from Washington State to Southern California, has cool summers and mild winters. Inland areas, especially in the Southwest, have hot, dry summers and cooler winters.

And in mountainous areas temperatures are cooler and precipitation is more abundant. Large desert areas in the southwest have extremely hot summers and mild winters with low humidity and low precipitation.

Soil types in the western region

The five main types of soils in the West are Alfisols, Andisols, Aridisols, Inceptisols, and Mollisols.

  • Andisols, these soils are usually found in areas with a history of volcanic activity, such as the Pacific Volcanic Belt. Due to their high nutrient content and the ability of volcanic ash to retain nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium. They also have excellent water retention properties, making them ideal for growing vegetables and grains.
Western Region

(Western landscape)

There are also some less common types of soils.

  • Gelisols, this soil characteristic is high in ice content, accounting for more than half of the soil volume, and contains permafrost. Gelisols are found throughout Alaska and are by far the most common soils in the state.
  • Histosols, these soils contain high concentrations of organic matter that provide a rich source of nutrients for plant growth. Ideal for growing crops such as rice, cranberries, and other wetland crops. However, they may need specific management practices, such as drainage systems and soil amendments, to optimize crop growth.
  • Oxisols, present in Hawaii, are highly weathered soils with very low fertility. Without proper management, this can make them difficult to cultivate. But, with management, it is still possible to grow tropical crops such as cassava, coffee beans, and rubber.
12 soil types

(Soil types)

(Photo from earthreview.org)

Conclusion

Overall Mollisols, Alfisols, Entisols, and Inceptisols are the soil types that account for the largest percentage of soils in the United States. Know the basics and information about the relevant soils to take your garden to the next level. So check out the soil types based on your location!


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