Soil is defined by the Soil Science Society of South Africa as “The unconsolidated mineral and organic material on the immediate surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants. The unconsolidated mineral matter on the surface of the earth that has been subjected to and influenced by genetic and environmental factors of parent material, climate (including precipitation and temperature effects), macro- and microorganisms, and topography, all acting over a period of time and producing a product – soil – that differs from the material from which it is derived in many physical, chemical, biological and morphological properties and characteristics.” (October 2013).
Soil Science deals with soils as an environmental resource. It includes soil characterization, classification, mapping, and the physical, chemical, hydrologic, mineralogical, biological, and microbiological analysis. In South Africa the ‘Taxonomic System for South Africa’ is used to classify soils into forms and families according to diagnostic horizons.
Soils, Land-Use and Land Capability are closely linked, and form the basis of most soil studies. Development projects in the mining, industrial and agricultural sectors (amongst others) almost always require a soil study to determine important capabilities and management measures for the site selected. GCS employs qualified Soil Scientists who are able to undertake the following investigations/projects:
- Soil Survey and Mapping, Land-Use and Capability Mapping.
- Soil, Land-Use and Land Capability Assessments.
- Soil Impact Assessments and Management Plans.
- Topsoil volumes and management for rehabilitation.
- Rehabilitation Planning and Implementation.
- Agricultural Feasibility Studies.
- Specific Soil Investigations required (for example) to identify clay types or contaminants.
- Soil Monitoring.
- Soil rehabilitation.
- Fertilizer Recommendations.
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Undertaking of Soil Assessments at the start of projects could identify key constraints and management requirements in terms of project design, and could result in significant long term cost saving, by planning the ideal infrastructure location – also considering closure and/or rehabilitation requirements.
Soils and other Environmental Disciplines are closely linked, GCS is able to expand on the Soil Studies by providing related services:
- Irrigation potential and planning for agricultural projects.
- Assessment of ground and surface water for irrigation supply.
- Environmental Authorisation Applications for associated activities that trigger listed activities.
- Water Use License Applications where applicable.
- Comprehensive GIS Services for mapping and planning.
- Specialised delineation of wetlands.
- Ecological and Aquatic Studies.