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soil profile[¦sȯil ¦prō‚fīl]
a vertical cross section of soil extending from the surface to the parent material and consisting of genetically related horizons and subhorizons created during soil formation. A soil profile may range in thickness from several dozen centimeters to several meters. Soil profiles are divided into natural profiles and those that have been altered by man’s activity (cultivation, reclamation, improvement).
The variations in the structure of the soil profile and in the composition and properties of its horizons serve as the basis for classifying soils. The profile of each soil group, subgroup, genus, and species has a distinct structure that reflects the processes taking place in the soil. Therefore, an analysis of the soil profile (by comparing the composition and properties of the horizons) is the principal means of studying the genesis and fertility of soils, working out methods for improving them, and compiling soil maps.