Grassland Soil Types

by Catalina Bixler
Global grasslands were home to 800 million people in 2009.

Global grasslands were home to 800 million people in 2009.

According to the Nature Conservancy Organization, in 2009, "the world's grasslands are home to nearly 800 million people." This occupied grassland grows from types of soil producing food, growing industrial crops and even offering healing medicinal plants and herbs. Like the diversity of grassland grasses throughout the world, so is the soil they grow from.

Black Soil

Soils holding the rich prairie grasslands of the central and north central United States and India compare similarly to the black soil (chernozem) of grasslands widely distributed throughout Russia. Containing large quantities of nutrients with excellent water-holding capacity, grassland black soil comes in various grades of fertility, shading off into gray and chestnut-brown colored soils.

Clay Soils

Grasslands of Northern Austrailia grown on clay soil.

Located inland, the Mitchell Grasslands of Northern Australia grow from mineral-rich clay soils. Curiosities of clay soil include a tendency to break apart while possessing submicroscopic abilities to retain water and release it during dry times, providing growing grass needed moisture. The atomic level abilities of clay also attract grass- and plant-growing nutrients like potassium and magnesium.

Lateritic Soils

Nutrient-poor African savanna soil has few trees.

Supporting savanna grassland, lateritic soils change from moderately acidic to increasingly acidic farther down. This soil contains low organic content resulting in little nutrients and low biological activity, producing soil with little organic content. Iron and sometimes aluminum oxide caused by prolonged exposure to water form an intensely hard and erode-free rock called "coffee rock." Sometimes layers of fertile, red and yellow clay stone lie under the coffee rock.

Loess Soil

Formed from the accumulation of silt, clay and sand blown in on the wind, calcium-rich loess lies beneath some of the world's temperate grasslands. Humus-rich loess soil develops from the calcification process where mild leaching (runoff of water), and decaying roots and plant material provides bed soil for grass growth.

About the Author

Catalina Bixler's journalism career began in 1970. After five years as a publishing teacher, Bixler then published/edited NATO's U.S. 5th Army and 17th AF "Wiesbaden Post" newspaper. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in bilingual-journalism/community development from Redlands University, and a Master of Arts in adult education/training from the University of Phoenix.

Photo Credits

  • Grasslands of the bush image by Joey Caston from Fotolia.com