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Home > Basics > Dynamic Soil Properties

Inherent and Dynamic Soil Properties


The quality of a soil is a combination of inherent and dynamic soil properties. The focus of
most soil quality work is dynamic soil properties and how they change in relation to the
inherent features of the soil.

Inherent or use-invariant properties change little, if at all, with land use or management
practices. They may include soil texture, depth to bedrock, type of clay, CEC, and drainage
class. These properties were established as soil formed over millennia. How soils form

depends on the five soil- forming factors identified by


Hans Jenny (1941) and others:

 climate (precipitation and temperature)


 topography (shape of the land)
 biota (native vegetation, animals, and microbes)
 parent material (geologic and organic precursors to the soil)
 time (time that parent material is subject to soil formation processes)

Dynamic properties or use-dependent properties can change over the course of months and
years in response to land use or management practice changes. Dynamic properties include
organic matter, soil structure, infiltration rate, bulk density, and water and nutrient holding
capacity. Changes in dynamic properties depend both on land management practices and the
inherent properties of the soil. For example, the organic matter levels in soil depend on tillage
practices and the types of plants growing (management), but the total amount of organic
matter is constrained by soil texture and climate (inherent features). Some properties, such as
bulk density, may be considered inherent properties below 20-50 cm, but are dynamic

properties near the surface.


Jenny, H. 1941. Factors of Soil Formation: A System of Quantitative Pedolog. Dover Pub.,
Mineola, N.Y.

Updated: September 19, 2011

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NRCS East National Technology Support Center, NRCS National Soil Survey Center, ARS
National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment,
NCERA-59 Scientists, and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This site designed by the NRCS East National Technology Support Center.