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Victorian Resources Online

Soil Type

Primary Production Landscapes | Classifying soils | Searching by region

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Soils and landforms in Victoria have taken many thousands of years to evolve. With different parent materials, climate, and tectonics all playing a part over this long period, there is much variability in the landscapes resulting, and the soils contained therein.

While one soil can be quite different to another, it is possible to group soils to help define their various strengths and weaknesses. Doing this helps us be smarter in selecting management activities (following the concept of land capability) to keep each soil healthy. The following information can be used to determine and evaluate your soil type.

Primary Production Landscapes

Victoria can be divided into 22 Primary Production Landscapes (PPL). Soil and landscape data, land use maps, the climatic record, and regional experience of agronomists and land managers have been used to define Victoria’s major Primary Production Landscapes.

Soil varies between the landscape zones, but can be grouped along with vegetation, terrain and climate into these zones of similar productivity. Of course soil will vary within each zone as well, hence it is desirable to understand local soil types, and become familiar with their strengths and weaknesses (see further details below).

For each PPL, the major soils have been identified and a table of the management issues is available (note that soil will vary across the landscape and even across the paddock). Click here to go the soil section of the PPL page and then follow the links to your region. A page is also available with a clickable map of Victoria, identifying representative soil pits within each PPL.

Classifying soils

It is important to recognise the arrangement of soil below the surface if we are to understand soil variability, and to have effective management. Soil is made up of layers which together form the soil profile. The layers are grouped into horizons:

Australian soils are classified on the basis of information on these horizons, and their formation. It is termed the
Australian Soil Classification. Many soil and land surveys have been undertaken in Victoria and are available elsewhere on VRO.

There are 14 soil orders in the Australian Soil Classification. Each one describes key attributes of that soil including colour, texture, and structure; just to identify a few. In alphabetical order, the soil orders below are hyperlinked to the glossary definition provided on VRO.

Knowledge of soil type, observation of the soil profile, and analysis of strengths and weaknesses will help understand inherent characteristics including:
  • Infiltration
  • Available water store
  • Permeability
  • Erosion hazard
  • Nutrient availability, and
  • Possible toxicities

Digging a soil pit is a great aid to evaluating and understanding soil.

It is important to see horizons, and describe texture, structure, colour, pH, organic matter and visible biological activity.

Searching this site by region
For more specific information on the soil types in your region, search the website by region. From this page you will be able to select your region, e.g. Corangamite, then by selecting soil from the menu on the right hand side of the page you will be able to identify the soils of the Corangamite region and view maps of soil and landform.
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