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

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5.4 - Inceptisols

These soils are in the beginning stages of soil profile development. The differences between horizons are just beginning to appear. Some color changes may be evident between the emerging horizons, and the beginnings of a B horizon may be seen with the accumulation of small amounts of clay, salts, and organic material. These soils show more profile development than Entisols, but have not developed the horizons or properties that characterize other soil orders. Inceptisols are commonly found throughout the world, and are prominent in mountainous regions. The natural productivity of these soils varies widely, and is dependent upon clay and organic matter content, and other edaphic (plant-related) factors.

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


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 Inceptisols – Soil Profile Begins

  • The beginnings of soil profile development
  • Color differences between horizons starting to show
  • Prominent in mountainous areas, but occur almost everywhere
  • Widely variable productivity potential
  • Extent of world ice-free land area: 10%


Further Details

 Paxton Series

USDA details

More information

All images courtesy of USDA-NRCS

Question 10:  Inceptisols are frequently found in which of the following types of geographic regions?

A. Grassland prairies and steppes
B. Coastal plains
C. Tropical deserts
D. Mountains and foothills
E. Wetlands and swamps



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