5.4 - Inceptisols

These soils are in the beginning stages of soil profile development. The differences between horizons are just beginning to appear. Some color changes may be evident between the emerging horizons, and the beginnings of a B horizon may be seen with the accumulation of small amounts of clay, salts, and organic material. These soils show more profile development than Entisols, but have not developed the horizons or properties that characterize other soil orders. Inceptisols are commonly found throughout the world, and are prominent in mountainous regions. The natural productivity of these soils varies widely, and is dependent upon clay and organic matter content, and other edaphic (plant-related) factors.


Soil order - Inceptisols. Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS

Profile example - Paxton Series. Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS

USDA details

Further information by the University of Idaho 

Key Characteristics:  Inceptisols – Soil Profile Begins

  • The beginnings of soil profile development
  • Color differences between horizons starting to show
  • Prominent in mountainous areas, but occur almost everywhere
  • Widely variable productivity potential
  • Extent of world ice-free land area: 10%

U.S. Order Distribution Map for Inceptisols. Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS 

Further Detail by the NRCS



Inceptisols are frequently found in which of the following types of geographic regions?‏

Looks Good! Correct: Yes! Inceptisols are commonly found throughout the world and are prominent in mountainous regions, especially near the tropical latitudes.