Ministry of Environment


Part 2 - The Major Soils and Soil Processes of British Columbia

2.1 Introduction

L.M. Lavkulich

In Part 1, the climate, physiography, geology and vegetation ecology of British Columbia were described separately. However, they do not occur separately. They occur together in the landscape and it is their interaction that produces soil on the surface layer of the earth. In fact, pedologists believe that a soil is the result of the so called factors of soil formation, namely parent material, climate, biota (vegetation and animals), topography and time. Every time a factor of soil formation changes so does the soil. It is only through this appreciation that soils can be used to their best advantage to serve mankind. In order to understand and interpret soils, it is necessary to have concepts of processes and classification schemes. In this way soils can be identified, sampled, characterized, mapped and evaluated for specific uses.

The processes resulting from this interaction and the general nature of the soil formed by these processes will be described in Part 2.2. Many different kinds of soils are produced across the landscape of British Columbia as a result of the different intensities of soil-forming processes. An orderly method of labeling each type of soil is necessary so that it can be described, discussed, studied or mapped. For this purpose the Canadian Soil Classification System has been developed over many years. Since climate is so important in the understanding of soils and their properties and management, a Soil Climate Classification has also been evolved over the past several years. The principal features of these two classification systems are described in Part 2.3.

In order to understand and illustrate the processes of soil formation, the relationship among the factors of soil formation, and the application of classification systems to the soils of British Columbia, Part 2.4 provides descriptions, pictures and representative laboratory analyses of the nine main groups of soils (soil orders) found in the province. In this manner soils are related to the landscape, the environment in which they are found and some of their characteristics are described.