The Critical Zone

Soil Orders




A wide range of soil classification schemes has been developed by various nations primarily interested in the agricultural aspects of their native soils. Again, you should not spend much more than two hours reviewing this information.


For this assignment, you will need to record your work on a word processing document. Your work must be submitted in Word (.doc) or PDF (.pdf) format so I can open it. In addition, documents must be double-spaced and typed in 12 point Times Roman font.
  1. To get a sense of the range of soil classification schemes, go to soil classification and be sure to scroll down and read "See Also" - many more systems exist but this presents a few of those that are more widely accepted and used.
  2. Once you have a sense for the wide range in classification schemes, review "The Twelve Soil Orders Soil Taxonomy".
  3. Spend time working through the description for each soil order and view some of the examples of each. Pay particular attention to the latitudinal distribution of each soil order.
  4. Answer the following questions. You may find the following resource to be helpful: (PBS Learning Media website).
    • Do you observe any generalized pattern to the distribution of any of the soil orders?
    • If so, can you attribute the distribution to any understanding you may have of the state factors of soil formation?
    • Can you draw any conclusions regarding the relative importance of any of the state factors of soil formation from your observations?


    "Teacher's Domain" is a free resource, but you must register with them in order to view more than seven resources. Since we'll point to that resource throughout this course, you may want to take a moment to go ahead and register with them now.

  5. Save your document as either a Microsoft Word or PDF file in the following format:

    L2_soilorders_AccessAccountID_LastName.doc (or .pdf).

    For example, student Elvis Aaron Presley's file would be named "L2_soilorders_eap1_presley.doc"—this naming convention is important, as it will help me make sure I match each submission up with the right student!

Submitting your work

Upload your paper to the "Lesson 2 - Soil Orders" dropbox in Canvas (under the Modules tab) by the due date indicated on our Canvas calendar.

Grading criteria

You will be graded on the quality of your writing. You should not simply write responses to the questions and submit them to me. Instead plan on writing a short stand-alone paragraph (or page or whatever you decide is necessary considering any constraints I might have placed on you) so that anyone can read what you've written and understood it. You should strive to be specific and complete in responding to the questions. Your answers should be analytic, thoughtful and insightful, and should provide an insightful connection between ideas. The writing should be tight and crisp with varied sentence structure and a serious, professional tone.

Want to learn more?

(Optional) Visit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA Website).

  • Go to "Related Topics - Products and Services - Educational Resources" and browse their educational materials: scroll down the page to "Other Resources for Students and Educators."
  • Also at "Products and Services," follow the outreach activities link and click on "Career Outreach" to learn about various opportunities for students including internships, scholarships, and employment.