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Soil Genesis and Development, Lesson 5 - Soil Classification and Geography

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5.10 - Oxisols

Oxisols are the most weathered of the 12 soil orders in the USDA soil classification system. (See Lesson 2 -- Processes of Weathering.) They are composed of the most highly weathered tropical and subtropical soils, and are formed in hot, humid climates that receive a lot of rainfall.  Oxisols are located primarily in equatorial regions.

These soils are extensively leached, and the clay size particles are dominated by oxides of iron and aluminum, which are low in natural fertility (Ca2+, Mg2+, K+) and high in soil acidity (H+, Al3+).  While Oxisols are typically physically stable, with low shrink-swell properties and good erosion resistance, these soils require extensive inputs of lime and fertilizers to be agriculturally productive

Soil Order Key Characteristics U.S. Order Distribution Map Profile Examples


Click on the image to study, and click on the expanded image to read the detail.


  • The most highly-weathered soils
  • Form in hot, humid climates with high annual rainfall.
  • Commonlyoccur in equatorial latitudes.
  • Highly weathered and leached, dominated by iron and aluminum oxides.
  • Low in natural fertility (basic cations, Ca2+, Mg2+, K+) and high in soil acidity (H+, Al3+)
  • Physically stable soils, with low shrink-swell properties.
  • Extent of world ice-free land area: 8%


Further Details

Bayamon Series

Bayamon Series

USDA details

More information

All images courtesy of USDA-NRCS

Question 18:  Which of the following soil management practices would most likely be necessary if trying to cultivate food crops like beans and corn on Oxisol soils?

A. Frequent addition of acid-reducing liming agents
B. Frequent use of soil tillage and cultivation
C. Use of erosion control measures such as terracing
D. Using no-till soil management
E. Maintenance of surface cover to conserve moisture and reduce erosion



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