Field Description and Identification of Diagnostic Qualifiers for Urban Soils in Brazil
Human activities often alter soils found in urban areas. These alterations affect their environmental functions and potential for use. However, soils from urban areas in Brazil have not been surveyed and identified, which can pose a technical problem for the development of the city. Considering the importance of urban environments and their soils, this study aimed to evaluate the environmental and morphological characteristics and the physical properties of urban soils in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The purpose was then to organize a protocol for describing urban soils and to identify diagnostic qualifiers to subsidize establishment of an order that allows proper classification of these soils in the Brazilian Soil Classification System. The protocol containing general and environmental notes and morphological notes and qualifiers was organized based on the experience of this study and the relevant literature. The environmental, morphological, and physical analyses carried out supported interpretation of the urban soils of Santa Maria, their classification in the World Reference Base for Soil Resources system, and identification of diagnostic qualifiers proposed for the Brazilian Soil Classification System. The protocol tested in this study was adequate for data collection in the field. Soils had high variation in layer thickness, particle size composition, color, bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, penetration resistance, stoniness, and the presence of artifacts. Considering the establishment of a Brazilian taxonomy for urban soils, the field data led to the proposal for new qualifiers, such as Saprolitic (residual saprolite material), Impervic (sealed/impermeable layer), Multigranic (layers with contrasting textures), Stonic (layers with stoniness), and Saprorockic (layers constituted of transported saprolite), which can be used as diagnostic attributes in the Brazilian Soil Classification System and even contribute to improvement of the order of Technosols in the World Reference Base For Soil Resources system.