chernozem

chernozem chĕr´nəzĕm˝ [key] or black earth, variety of soil rich in organic matter in the form of humus . It is generally a modified type of loess . True chernozem is black in color, but there are various grades, shading off into gray and chestnut-brown soils. It forms in areas that have cold winters, hot summers, and rapid evaporation of precipitation generally only tall grass is found native on chernozem. It has large quantities of nutrients, excellent structure, and good water-holding capacity, making it very suitable for agriculture. It is most widely distributed in Russia, where it forms a large part of the good agricultural soil, but soils similar to the Russian are also found in India and the central and N central United States.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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