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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Soil Survey Interpretation—Capability Groupings1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 22 No. 2, p. 160-163
    Received: Apr 25, 1957
    Accepted: Nov 12, 1957

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  1. A. A. Klingebiel2



The capability classification is one of several interpretive soil groupings made for agricultural purposes. The capability groupings provide information at three different levels of generalization; namely, class, subclass, and unit.

In the early stages of conservation planning it is important to know for each kind of soil its location, extent, and general suitability for various uses. Soil maps interpreted into the eight capability classes provide this general information. Capability classes are set up so the soils having the greatest alternative uses are in class I and the least in class VIII. When uses are considered collectively, the risks or limitations become progressively greater from class I to class VIII land.

Capability subclasses within each of the classes other than class I denote the major kind of conservation problems. Four kinds of problems are recognized in defining subclasses: (1) Runoff and erosion; (2) wetness and drainage; (3) root zone and tillage limitations, such as shallow soil, stones, low moisture capacity, and salinity; and (4) climatic limitations.

Within each capability class and subclass the capability units provide specific groupings of similar soils. A capability unit is a group of soils that are nearly alike in potentials for plant growth and responses to management. That is, a reasonably uniform set of alternatives can be presented for the soil, water, and plant management of the soils in a capability unit, assuming that effects of past management are properly considered.

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