Albrecht, C; Jahn, R; Huwe, B: Soil systematics and classification systems - Part 1: Fundamentals, Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 168(1), 7-20 (2005)
Soil-ordering systems are primarily based and developed on one of two underlying principles: They are either categorized according to soil-forming processes, or the formation of categories develops by chosen parameters. This perspective has already been established in the literature, though it is often confusing as many terms are defined and applied differently. In this contribution, the various definitions of systematics, classification, taxonomy, and identification will be clearly differentiated and summarized. The core of our work is to clearly define and contrast three terms: systematics, classification, and identification. Systematics is the fundamental scientific and deductive ordering of objects into systematic units. The purpose of this approach is to organize the, entire spectrum of knowledge within a discipline into a transparent and manageable form. Classification, in direct contrast to systematics, is goal-oriented and an inductive ordering of objects, Thus, the ordering scheme consists of classes which are clearly parameterized. Identification is the ordering of now objects into an already existing systematics or classification system. Close attention is paid to both the differences and the similarities between a systematics and a classification system, especially pertaining to their practical applications. The identification requires that the category-forming characteristics can be measured (e.g., for soil systematics, these are the soil-forming processes and factors). Currently, it is unfortunately not feasible to objectively quantity most soil-forming processes. Thus, most attempts at categorizing soils by systematics are hypothetical and highly subjective in nature. The resulting identification derived from the soil systematics approach is open to questions and contestable, since a graded measuring system does not yet exist to verify these determinations. In contrast, a soil-classification system does allow an objective soil-profile identification, although such systems are conceived pragmatically and designed for a practical purpose (e.g., not scientifically based on process intensities). Unfortunately, such a classification system cannot be applied as a universal scientific categorization system due to this method of conception. Both categorization approaches are required in soil science in order to satisfy both the practical and the scientific aspects of the field. However, substantial research must be done to complete and verify systematics. The only viable short-term solution is through the development of a graded classification system where the categories of the system are directly derived from the current systematics approach. In the long run both the exact investigation and the detailed modeling of the soil-forming processes are inevitable.
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