Agronomy and Horticulture Department



Soil Genesis and Development, Lesson 3 - Soil Forming Factors

Date of this Version


Document Type



Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary (PASSeL) Lesson


Copyright © 2019 Plant and Soil Sciences eLibrary. Used by permission.

JNRLSE approved 2009

This lesson was developed by Martha Mamo, Timothy Kettler, and Dennis McCallister at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Jim Ippolito, Research Soil Scientist, USDA-ARS-NWISRL, Kimberly, Idaho, formerly at Colorado State University; Ron Reuter at Oregon State University; Christoph Geiss at Trinity College–Connecticut; and William Zanner at the University of Minnesota. Development of this lesson was supported by the National Science Foundation Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program (NSF-CCLI), Award Number DUE-0042603. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of NSF.


This lesson identifies the five major soil-forming factors and discusses how they influence soil development.


The goal of this topic is for students to understand how the five major soil-forming factors influence soil development. To reach that goal, students should be able to meet the objectives listed below.


  1. Identify the five factors of soil formation.
  2. Explain the effects of each of the factors on soil formation.
  3. Explain how types of parent material differ in terms of mode of deposition and degree of sorting.