5.6 - Mollisols
The Mollisol order takes its name from the Latin word mollis, meaning soft. These mineral soils have developed on grasslands, a vegetation that has extensive fibrous root systems. The topsoil of Mollisols is characteristically dark and rich with organic matter, giving it a lot of natural fertility. These soils are typically well saturated with basic cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and K+) that are essential plant nutrients. These characteristics of Mollisols place them among the most fertile soils found on Earth.
Key Characteristics: Mollisols – Grassland Soils
- Mineral soils developed under grassland vegetation
- Thick, dark-colored ‘A’ horizon, rich in organic matter
- Dominant soil order of the North American Great Plains region.
- Large areas of Mollisols are also found in Eastern Europe, Russia, China, and South America.
- Generally very fertile for plant growth due to clay and organic matter content.
- Considered to be among the most fertile soils on Earth.
- Extent of world ice-free land area: 7%