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University of Minnesota Extension

Five factors of soil formation

Scientists attribute soil formation to the following factors: Parent material, climate, biota (organisms), topography and time.

These factors interact to form more than 1,108 different soil series in Minnesota. The physical, chemical and biological properties of the different soils can have a big effect on how to best manage them.

The five factors


Soil horizons and series

These five soil-forming factors have different influences, causing different soil horizons to form.

Scientists use the differences or similarities of soil horizons to categorize similar soils into soil series. The properties of each soil series influence soil management decisions.


John A. Lamb, emeritus Extension soil scientist and George W. Rehm, emeritus Extension soil scientist

Reviewed in 2018

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