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Kandosols [KA]


This order accommodates those soils which lack strong texture contrast, have massive or only weakly structured B horizons, and are not calcareous throughout. The soils of this order range throughout the continent, often occurring locally as very large areas.

Distribution of Kandosols in Australia.
Soil Profile (View type example photo of Yellow Kandosol).


Soils other than Hydrosols which have all of the following:

  1. B2 horizons in which the major part is massive or has only a weak grade of structure.
  2. A maximum clay content in some part of the B2 horizon which exceeds 15% (ie. heavy sandy loam, SL+).
  3. Do not have a tenic B horizon.
  4. Do not have clear or abrupt textural B horizons.
  5. Are not calcareous throughout the solum, or below the A1 or Ap horizon or to a depth of 0.2m if the A1 horizon is only weakly developed.


Because of the lack of clearly defined horizons in some of these soils (particularly the red forms) with thick sola, there can be argument as to how to identify the limits of the B2 horizon.

As noted under Tenosols (see Comment following Definition), there may also be difficulty in deciding whether B horizon development is strong enough for the soil to be classed as a Kandosol, or is only weak and better classed as a tenic B horizon.



The colour class frequency of the soils classified to date is dominated by Red (58%) and Brown (22%), a result similar to that for the Chromosols and Dermosols.

Great Groups

It is thought that most of the following great group categories will be appropriate for the various suborders. At present the Duric and Mellic great groups are only known to occur in Red or Brown Kandosols, particularly the former. The Duric soils are confined to the arid zone.


The calcareous classes above approximately correspond to those of Wetherby and Oades (1975) as follows: Hypocalcic - Class IV, Lithocalcic - Class III B and IIIC, Supracalcic - Class III B, Hypercalcic - Class III A, Calcic - Class I and IIIA. In the Lithocalcic and Supracalcic classes the coarse fragments may be >0.2 m in size and soft carbonate may or may not be present.

Of all the Kandosol profiles classified (1572), the Hypercalcic great group only accounted for 6%, but it was found to be most common (45%) in the 187 soils with a calcareous horizon. The most common non-calcareous great group was the Mesotrophic class at 40% of the total Kandosol profiles classified.

The Mellic soils are very common but little-known acid soils in the high rainfall - high altitude forested areas of south eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania. Structure is often difficult to determine because of weak consistence strength and the usual presence of more than 20% of rock fragments throughout the profile. Any peds present do not possess smooth faces.


It is thought that the following subgroups will cater for most situations, although obviously some will not be relevant for particular great groups of particular suborders. As an example, the various acidic subgroups will not be required for the calcareous great groups.


In some of the Dystrophic Kandosols there may be a future need to modify the definition of sodic subgroups. (See ESP). As in Chromosols, Dermosols and Ferrosols, Haplic is the most common subgroup (47%) of the Kandosol profiles classified. While this could indicate a need for further subdivison, it is difficult to find criteria that could be used.

Family Criteria

A1 horizon thickness

Thin [A] : < 0.1 m
Medium [B] : 0.1 - < 0.3 m
Thick [C] : 0.3 - 0.6 m
Very thick [D] : > 0.6 m

Gravel of the surface and A1 horizon

Non-gravelly [E] : < 2%
Slightly gravelly [F] : 2 - < 10%
Gravelly [G] : 10 - < 20%
Moderately gravelly [H] : 20 - 50%
Very gravelly [I] : > 50%

A1 horizon texture

Peaty [J] : see Peaty horizon
Sandy [K] : S-LS-CS (up to 10% clay)
Loamy [L] : SL-L (10-20% clay)
Clay loamy [M] : SCL-CL (20-35% clay)
Silty [N] : ZL-ZCL (25-35% clay and silt 25% or more)
Clayey [O] : LC-MC-HC (greater than 35% clay)

B horizon maximum texture1

Loamy [L] : SL-L (10-20% clay)
Clay loamy [M] : SCL-CL (20-35% clay)
Silty [N] : ZL-ZCL (25-35% clay and silt 25% or more)
Clayey [O] : LC - MC - HC (greater than 35% clay)

Soil depth

Very shallow [T] : < 0.25 m
Shallow [U] : 0.25 - < 0.5 m
Moderate [V] : 0.5 - < 1.0 m
Deep [W] : 1.0 - < 1.5 m
Very deep [X] : 1.5 - 5 m
Giant [Y] : > 5 m

1 This refers to the most clayey field texture category.

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