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Soil profile of a Calcic Kastanozem

Kastanozems is one of the 30 soil groups in the classification system of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These soils are brighter than Chernozems, and are related to the Mollisols in the USDA soil taxonomy. They are rich in humus, and originally covered with early maturing native grasslands vegetation, which produces a characteristic brown surface layer in the first meter in depth. They have a relative high level of available calcium ions bound to soil particles and can have a petrocalcic horizon between 25 and 100 cm thick.

No diagnostic horizons other than an albic, argic, cambic or vertic horizon, or a petrocalcic horizon in the substratum. Kastanozems are found in relatively dry zones with 200 to 450 mm of rainfall a year.

The name is derived from the Russian term 'каштановые почвы', where 'каштановые' is a shade of brown derived from the word "каштан" (kashtan), "chestnut" and refers to the color of its husk.


  • FAO, 1999. World reference base for soil resources.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012. Kastanozems.

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