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Distribution of Victorian Dairy Soils

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There is a great diversity of soil types across Victoria’s dairying regions that reflect differences in parent material, topography, climate, biological activity and age (e.g. degree of weathering). These different soil types have a range of physical and chemical characteristics (e.g. structure, drainage, depth, pH, sodicity) that impact on management. The map of Victorian Dairy Soils presented here is a consistent and broad statewide overview that displays the dominant Soil Orders in each of the major dairying regions, using the Australian Soil Classification (Isbell, 2002).

For more detailed mapping and information about regional soils and landforms in particular areas please access these regional areas of the VRO website:
East Gippsland region
West Gippsland region
North Central region
Goulburn Broken region
North East region

Also, the Soil and Land Survey Directory enables you to search for and access legacy soil and landscape survey reports based on a Local Government Area or catchment management region of interest.

Outline of Victoria showing area must suitable for dairying

Further information on these soils can be found below:
Texture contrast soils SodosolsKurosolsChromosols
Cracking clay soils Vertosols
Sandy soilsPodosolsTenosols
Non texture contrast soilsDermosolsFerrosolsKandosols
Shallow and stony soils
Wet soils Hydrosols

Victorian Dairy Soils (PDF - 1.3 MB)
The high resolution PDF file provided on this page can be viewed using the free Adobe Reader software and this can be installed from the Adobe website (external link). This PDF is provided with a high level of detail and with the intent that it should be printed at a high resolution.

Texture contrast soils

These soils are typified by a strong texture contrast between lighter textured surface (A) horizons and the heavier textured clay subsoil (B horizons). These can be can be divided into three broad Soil Orders; Sodosols, Kurosols and Chromosols, based on key subsoil properties such as pH and sodicity that are important for management.

Sodosols have subsoils that are not strongly acid (i.e. pH >5.5 in water) but are sodic and usually dense and coarsely structured. Red Sodosols (previously referred to as red-brown earths) occur extensively on the older alluvial plains in northern Victoria. Black and Brown Sodosols occur in the South West where they are associated with basalt plains and rises. In Gippsland, Yellow and Brown Sodosols are common on the plains and rises to the east of Traralgon where rainfall is relatively lower.

More detailed information about Sodosols in Victorian dairy regions
An example of a sodosol soil

Kurosols have clay subsoils that are strongly acid (i.e. pH less than 5.5 in water). They occur to a minor degree on hills in the higher rainfall dairying areas in Gippsland, South West and North Eastern Victoria.

More detailed information about Kurosols in Victorian dairy regions
Example of a kurosol

Chromosols have clay subsoils that are not strongly acid (i.e. pH 5.5 or greater in water) and are non-sodic. Chromosols are most common on the volcanic plains in South West Victoria, particularly west of Camperdown. There are minor occurrences in West Gippsland and the North East.

More detailed information about Chromosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Example of a Red Chromosol

Cracking clay soils

Cracking clay soils are referred to as Vertosols using the Australian Soil Classification. They are clay soils that shrink and swell causing seasonal cracking as the soil dries out. In the northern dairy region, Grey Vertosols are most common on large floodplains in the Murray and Loddon valleys in northern Victoria. There are some small occurrences in Gippsland and South West Victoria dairy regions and are often difficult to map at this statewide overview level where they may occur as minor components in many of the landscapes.

More detailed information about Vertosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Example of a grey Vertosol

Sandy soils

The most common sandy soils in Victorian dairy regions are Podosols. These are mainly sandy soils with accumulations of organic materials and aluminium (with or without iron compounds) - often referred to as “coffee rock” in the subsoil. Other sandy soils include weakly developed Tenosols, associated with older prior streams, or in current floodplain areas.

Podosols are common in Gippsland dairying regions, particularly south of Sale. South of Leongatha, Podosols occur (along with other soils) on Tertiary and early Pleistocene sediments where they have formed within the surface horizons of older soil profiles and have a distinct hardpan below the surface (referred to as Parapanic). Podosols are also reasonably common in South West Victoria where they occur on sedimentary plains.

More detailed information about Podosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Banner of various sandy soils

Non texture contrast soils

Dermosols are non-texture contrast earthy soils, that have moderately deep and reasonably structured subsoils.

Red Dermosols are widespread throughout the North East region where they are generally well drained and strongly acid, and occur in many landscapes (from lower terraces to mountains) having developed on a range of rock types and alluvial sediments. There are minor occurrences in south-west Victoria on limestone in the Heytesbury region.Photo: Acidic Red Dermosol on lower river  terrace in the Tallangatta valley

Brown Dermosols are widespread on the steep hills of the Strzelecki Ranges of Gippsland and Otway Ranges in South West Victoria. In these higher rainfall areas, they are generally strongly acid throughout the soil profile.Brown Dermosol in Strzelecki hills near Fish Creek -  Site SG12 Profile

Well-structured Black Dermosols are common on alluvial plains near Maffra and on volcanic ash deposits in South West Victoria.Photo: Site G62 Profile

Yellow and Grey Dermosols that are strongly leached and acidic are associated with older Tertiary landscapes in West Gippsland. They also occur on rises and plains associated with marl deposits in southwest Victoria where they tend to be calcareous at depth.

More detailed information about Dermosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Photo: Site GP18 Profile

Ferrosols (formerly referred to as ‘krasnozems’) are deep, strongly-structured and friable red and brown soils that have formed on basalt. They are high in free iron oxide and clay, and are generally strongly acid. Ferrosols are common in West Gippsland associated with the rolling older basalt hills around Warragul, Thorpdale and Leongatha.

More detailed information about Ferrosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Example of a Red Ferrosol

Kandosols are non-texture contrast earthy soils that have structureless, or only weakly structured, subsoils.

More detailed information about Kandosols in Victorian dairy regions.
Example of a Kandosol

Shallow and stony soils

Very shallow and stony Dermosols and Rudosols occur on the stony rises surrounding Lake Corangamite and to the north and south of Derrinallum in South West Victoria.Example of a stony Dermosol

Wet soils

Soils that are seasonally or permanently saturated (i.e. for at least 2-3 months per year) are referred to as Hydrosols. These soils are common in lower lying areas in valley floors in higher rainfall areas and are most extensive in West Gippsland. There are also occurrences in South West Victoria but these are usually not large enough to map at the statewide scale used here.Example of a Dermosolic Hydrosol

Relevant information elsewhere on VRO website

Legacy reports and documents related to soil assessment
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