The first soil classification systems appeared in Russia on the eve of the 20th century, and the imprint of their ideology and conceptual priorities have remained very strong in the later systems. Both early Russian schemes developed by Dokuchaev and Sibirtsev are traditionally regarded as factor-genetic, i.e., they comprise the notions on the origin of soils, soil-forming processes and soil position in the system of geographical zones. However, some importance was attributed to soil properties, moisture and temperature regimes, and the stage of soil development. These major features of pedogenetic manifestations and environment have proved to be key points in the further development of the classification schemes in Russia. Subsequent schemes differed in the priorities given either to the environment (zones), or to soil genesis, or to soil properties.

The current Classification of Soils of Russia is an open, substantive-genetic system, embracing soils of all regions. Soil properties related to genesis are used as criteria for the highest taxonomic categories (Trunks and Orders), and soil types, traditionally being central units of the system, are specified by sequences of diagnostic soil horizons. These horizons are defined by the integrity of substantive soil properties, whose choice is controlled by pedogenetic processes. Environmental agents, including climatic parameters, are virtually excluded from the diagnostics of most soil taxa. Special attention is paid to human-modified soils. Together with corresponding natural soils, they are perceived as a conceptual or spatial continuum: from natural soils to modified natural-anthropogenic soils and, finally, to nonsoil surface formations. The taxonomic position of human-modified soils does not take into account the goals and character of impacts on soil and the level of soil fertility; it is fully dictated by the morphology of soil profile. Traditional soil names were preserved, and supplemented by new constructions for human-modified soils and nonsoils.

The new Russian system has a number of features in common with the International and American systems in terms of methodology, in particular, in the attitude to soil horizons. However, in spite of many efforts, the correlation of soils between the systems remains broadly inadequate, and this may be a challenge in the future.


Source: Gerasimova, M. 2002. Classification, Russia. In: Encyclopedia of Soil Science. Available at (verified 20 August 2004).