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Soils are defined as the usually thin upper surface layer of the earth’s crust comprising living organisms, organic matter, decomposed rock or unconsolidated sediments, water and gases with properties attributable to the interaction of its parent material, time, climate, fauna and flora.

This section presents a summary of soil information relevant to South African conditions.  The information is taken from Soils of South Africa - Systematic and Environmental Significance by Martin Fey (2005).  The first sub-section forms an introduction to South African soils.  Thereafter a high-level grouping of South African soils as developed by Martin Fey is discussed.  The grouping makes use of nomenclature that is internationally familiar, following pedological tradition, while at the same time being based on key diagnostic horizons as defined in the South African system.  The twelve soil groups have provided the basis for a systematic account of South African soils (their properties, geography, genesis and use).  The grouping is shown in the Table below.