Encyclopedia of Soil Science

2008 Edition
| Editors: Ward Chesworth


  • Ward Chesworth
  • Marta Camps Arbestain
  • Felipe Macías
  • Otto Spaargaren
  • Otto Spaargaren
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-3995-9_85

Cambisols are soils at an early (incipient) stage of soil formation. There is generally a brownish discoloration below the surface horizon, to mark the beginning of pedogenesis. The subsoil has a soil rather than a geological structure. This article is based on FAO (2001).

Connotation. Soils with beginning horizon differentiation evident from changes in color, structure or carbonate content; from L. cambiare, to change.

Synonyms. The name was first used in the legend to the FAO World Soil Map. The equivalent term in Soil Taxonomy is inceptisols. Other classifications use terms connoting brown soil e.g., ‘Braunerde’ (Germany), ‘Sols bruns’ (France), ‘Brown soils’/‘Brown Forest soils’ (USA pre‐Soil Taxonomy), and ‘Brunizems’ (Russia).

Definition. Cambisols are defined by FAO ( 2001) as soils having
  1. 1.

    a cambic horizon; or

  2. 2.

    a mollic horizon overlying subsoil with low base saturation within 100 cm depth; or

  3. 3.

    one of the following:

  4. 4.

    an andic, vertic or vitric horizon starting...

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  1. FAO. 2001. Lecture notes on the major soils of the world. World Soil Resources Reports, 94. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 334 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Zech, W., and Hintermaier‐Erhard, G., 2007. Soils of the World. Heidelberg, Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 130 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ward Chesworth
  • Marta Camps Arbestain
  • Felipe Macías
  • Otto Spaargaren
  • Otto Spaargaren

There are no affiliations available