A Numerical Index of Podzol and podzolic

Soil Development


Randall J. Schaetzl and Delbert L. Mokma


            A numerical index of soil development, the POD index, was developed and applied to 723 pedons of United States soils that either exhibit, or are developing, Podzol (Spodosol) morphology.  The index is determined solely from morphologic (field) criteria, and provides the first soil development index for Podzol and Podzol-like soils that does not use chemical data.  The index assumes that pedogenesis and profile development in these soils produces the following morphologic changes; (1) the E (eluvial) horizon becomes “whiter,” (2) the B (illuvial) horizon becomes “redder” and “darker,” and (3) the number of B subhorizons increases.  Results indicated that the index was useful for differentiating between non-Podzols and Podzols, and between Entic and Typic subgroups of Spodosols.  A comparison of POD indices for Spodosols of differing drainage revealed that maximum development occurred in wet soils (somewhat poorly drained), with minimal development on the driest sites.  This finding is consistent with current theory on the effects of drainage/water table relations on Podzol development.  Additionally, the index has usefulness in chronosequences of Podzol soil development.