Ohio's Soils

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Soils are formed through Natural Factors acting on Parent Material. Parent materialParent material is made up of the rock and mineral material exposed at the earth's surface. In Ohio there are three main groups of parent material:

  • Lake sediments left by ancient lakes;
  • Solid bedrock;
  • Glacial till --- the rubble that Ice Age glaciers left behind more than 10,000 years ago.

In Ohio there are more than 100 different specific kinds of parent materials.

Natural Factors

  • Climate and weather. For example freezing and thawing will break rock into small pieces.
  • Plants and animals. Decayed animals and plants leave organic material that becomes part of soils.
  • Conditions of ground slope and water drainage. For example, water running down hill wears rock and mixes parent materials.
  • Time. It takes time for the other natural factors to do their work.

Soil Regions

The result of natural factors working on parent materials is that Ohio has a great variety of specific soils.

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Legend

Soils in:

  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#highlimeglaciallake">High Lime Glacial Lake Sediments</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#highlimeglacialdrift">High Lime Glacial Drift of Wisconsin Age</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#illinoian">Glacial Drift of Illinoian Age</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#limestone&shale">Limestone and Shale Bedrock</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#lowlimeglaciallake">Low Lime Glacial Lake Sediments</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#lowlimeglacialdrift">Low Lime Glacial Drift of Wisconsin Age</a>
  • <a href="../administrator/entries/entryUpdate.php?recID=1289&phpMyAdmin=ffc514886bbt621cde9e#sandstone">Sandstone and Shale Bedrock</a>

Soils in High Lime Glacial Lake Soils in this region were formed in ice-age, glacial lake sediments. A series of lakes had formed in the general area of today's Lake Erie as the Wisconsin Glacier (14,000 to 24,000 years ago) melted back. Lake Erie is the last of this series of lakes, and still survives today.

The soils are high in lime. They contain varying amounts of organic matter and the clay content often is more than 40%. Water passes through them slowly and natural drainage is normally slow. In making up for slow movement of water in this soil region, Ohio farmers have created one of the largest and most concentrated farm drainage systems in the nation.

Land use of this region is mostly for agriculture. The soils are high in natural fertility and are some of the best in the nation. Crops include corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Tomatoes and sugar beets also are important.

Soils in High Lime Glacial Deposits of Wisconsin Age

Soils in this region were formed in glacial deposits from the Wisconsin glacier (14,000 to 24,000 years ago). They came from limestone and dolomite.

These soils are high in lime and have different amounts of organic matter. There are many variations in specific soil content and type, and the soils range from well-drained to poor natural drainage. These soils are moderate to high in natural ability to grow plants. There is a lot of agriculture in the region, in both crops and livestock. The crops include corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay.

Soils in Glacial Drift of Illinoian Age

The Illinoian Glacier (130,000 to 300,000 years ago) left the glacial deposits from which soils of this region were formed. The glacial deposits were made from limestone, sandstone or shale.

The soils are older than those from Wisconsin deposits, and are deeply worn by water. They often are acidic, poorly drained, and erosion commonly is a problem in hilly areas. The soils are low in natural fertility. The main agriculture of the region includes cash grain and general farming. More steeply sloping areas often are used for woodland or pasture. Rapid building and growth near cities is taking more and more land away from agricultural uses.

Soils in Limestone and Shale Bedrock

This region is in that part of Ohio that is unglaciated. The soils were formed directly from bedrock, mainly from limestone and shale. Hilly topography, with steep slopes, narrow ridges and valleys, are typical in this region. Severe erosion also is common. Natural soil fertility ranges from high to low. Steep slopes and danger of erosion limit agricultural use in this region. Tobacco is an important crop in less sloping areas. Much of the region is in pasture or woodland.

Soils in Low Lime Glacial Lake Sediments

Soils in this region also were formed in ice-age, glacial lake sediments. The deposits on which these soils were formed were made mainly from sandstone and shale. The slope of land in the region is nearly level to gently rolling. The soils generally are low in organic matter and are acidic. Fertility of these soils usually is low. Crops commonly include nursery stock, small fruits, and vegetables. Much of the region is semi-urban to urban, and continues to be changed from agriculture to housing, industry, and services.

Soils in Low Lime Glacial Drift of Wisconsin Age

Soils in this region were formed in glacial deposits from the Wisconsin glacier (14,000 to 24,000 years ago). They are different from he high-lime soils because they were made mainly from sandstone, shale and small amounts of limestone. These soils are low in organic matter, and are acidic. The topography is gently rolling with some steep slopes. Erosion can be a problem. The soils generally are low in fertility. Agriculture in this region mainly involves general farming and dairying. As in other parts of Ohio, large cities have replaced agriculture on much of the land.

Soils in Sandstone and Shale Bedrock

This region also is in that part of Ohio that is unglaciated. The soils were formed directly from bedrock, mainly from sandstone and shale. Some soils were formed over limestone or limy shale. The soils are acidic, and often are low in organic matter. Steep hillsides and narrow ridges lead to rapid runoff and erosion. The soils often are low in natural fertility. Much of the land is too steep or shallow for farming. The land usually is in either pasture or forest. General crops are grown on more gentle slopes. Strip mining has altered land use in much of the region.

Resources

  • Lafferty, Michael B., ed.Ohio's Natural Heritage;Ohio Academy of Science, Columbus; 1979.
  • Peacefull, Leonard, ed.A Geography of Ohio;Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio; 1996.
> class="resources"

See Also

References

  1. Peacefull, Leonard, ed.A Geography of Ohio. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996.