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Torch Lake Watershed Soil Types

Key Facts

As the glaciers advanced and retreated, they pulverized bedrock (granite) into sand and gravel.

They pushed the sand and gravel mixture into the ridges that surround Torch Lake.

Most of the topsoil washed downhill into Indiana and Ohio.

Little topsoil, less than 1 “thick, was left around the watershed.

The sand and gravel formed two types of mineral soils in the Torch Lake Watershed –

  • Ridges: Emmet-Montcalm soil
  • Sand dunes: Deer Park-Roscommon soil

A third type of soil was formed when plants such as reeds and sedges died and formed an organic soil:

  • Wetlands: Tawas-Ensley-Roscommon soil

Ridge left from the glaciers  Image: Torch Conservation Center

Did You Know?

Our different soils have different characteristics.

LOCATIONSOIL TYPESLOPECOMPOSITIONDRAINAGEPERMEABILITY
Sand dunesDeer Park-Roscommon2-20%Acid SandExcessively DrainedRapidly permeable
BeachesRubicon-
Grayling-
Croswell
0-6%Black sandy loam over sandModerately Drained
to Excessively Well
Drained
Moderate- rapidly permeable
High RidgesEmmet- Montcalm3-40%Sandy loamModerately Drained
to Well Drained
Moderately permeable
Moderatel
y High
Ridges
Island Lake-
Blue Lake-
Morgan
Lake
18-
35%
Sandy loamWell Drained to
Somewhat
Excessively Drained
Moderately
permeable
Very High
Ridges
Kalkaska-
Spring Lake-
South Wells
8-50%Sandy loamWell drained to
Excessively Drained
Moderately
permeable
WetlandsTawas-
Ensley-
Roscommon
0-2%Mucky Organic
Soil layer over
Sand
Very Poorly DrainedModerately
permeable to
slowly
permeable

Soils have physical, biological and chemical properties.

Physical Properties of Soil

Texture

  • Soil particles are different sizes:
    • large particles – sand and gravel
    • medium articles – silt
    • tiny particles – clay
  • The percentages of sand, silt and clay particles make up the soil texture.
  • Soils with different textures have different names.

SOIL TEXTURE CHART

SOIL TEXTURE CHART

Most soils in the Torch Lake Watershed are sand or sandy loam.

GRAIN SIZE CHART

GRAIN SIZE CHART

Other Physical Properties of Soil

  • Water – holding capacity
  • Nutrient – holding capacity
  • Porosity – spaces between soil particles
  • Permeability – the rate at which water infiltrates the soil and percolates downward through it

Large particles like sand have spaces between them filled with air, so they drain easily.

Smaller particles like clay have spaces filled with water, so they drain poorly.

  • Shrink-swell potential — the potential to contract when dry and expand when wet
  • Temperature
  • Aeration — amount of air in between soil particles
Sandy Loam Soil

Sandy Loam Soil Profile  Photo: geo.msu.edu

Biological Properties of Soil

Yes, healthy soil is alive.

A single teaspoon contains more living things than the population of Earth.

 

Living Organisms in Soil

  • Bacteria

Single-celled microorganisms that decompose organic matter

  • Fungi

Multi-celled plants that consume other living and dead organisms

  • Mycorrhiza

A combination of plant roots and specialized mycorrhizal fungi that infect them to form a network of fungal threads that act as extension of the roots system to greatly increase water and nutrient absorption

  • Protozoa

One-celled animals that decompose organic matter

  • Invertebrates

Animals with no spines such as slugs, centipedes, earthworms, nematodes and insects that help to decompose and consume plants and other animals.

  • Vertebrates

Animals with spines such as moles, voles, mice, ground squirrels and other creatures that make their homes in the soil and feed on other soil-inhabiting creatures

Living Organisms and Dead Material in Soil Image: USDA

Living Organisms and Dead Material in Soil  Image: USDA

Dead Material in Soil – Organic Matter and Humus

Organic matter – leaves, manure, grass clippings, bark, sticks

Humus – the material that remains after organic matter rapidly decomposes.

  • It is quite stable and resistant to further decomposition

Benefits of organic matter and humus:

  • Rich in the nutrient, nitrogen
  • Acts as a slow-release fertilizer
  • Increases soil texture
  • Increases water-holding capacity
  • Increases nutrient-holding capacity

Chemical Properties of Soil

Soil pH indicates whether it is more acidic or alkaline.

Plants require 16 essential nutrients to grow and develop.

Macro-Nutrients

Calcium
Carbon
Hydrogen
Magnesium
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sulfur

Micro-Nutrients

Boron
Chlorine
Copper
Iron
Manganese
Molybdenum
Zinc

Healthy soil  Image: UMaine.edu

Want to make your garden and lawn grow better?

It’s simple to do.

Build Healthy Soils

Visit the TRUE BLUE Gallery

Torch Conservation Center exterior

Closed until Memorial Day Weekend 2021
Look forward to seeing you then!

9046B Helena St.
Alden, Michigan 49612
231-676-0566

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