Duff

n. Moderately to highly decomposed leaves, needles, fine twigs, and other organic material found between the mineral soil surface and litter layer of forest soil.

 

  • Discussion

 

Duff occurs as a layer found beneath the litter layer and above the mineral soil. It is characterized by load (weight per acre), depth (inches) and bulk density  (lbs per cubic ft) and is classified by degree of decomposition. Lightly to moderately decomposed upper duff comprises the Oe soil horizon, which is also called the fermentation layer or F-layer. The more highly decomposed lower duff comprises the Oa soil horizon and is also called the humus layer of H-layer.

 

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Duff load, or weight per acre, is a function of duff depth and density.  See table  below for several duff classifications that are currently in use. Also, see Soil Classification Working Group 1988, Soil Survey Staff 1975, and Soil Survey Staff 2006 for further discussion.

 

 

Common soil horizon designations

 

Canadian System of Soil Classification (1998)

U.S. Soil Survey (1975)

U.S. Soil Survey (2006)

Characteristics of organic material

L

O1

Oi

Slightly decomposed and the original plant structure is recognizable

F

O1 or O2

Oe

Increasingly decomposed but the original plant structure is recognizable

H

O2

Oa

Highly decomposed and the original plant structure is unrecognizable

 

 

 

  • See Also

  • References

    • Soil Classification Working Group. 1998. The Canadian System of Soil Classification. 3rd ed. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Publication 1646. 187 p.

    • Soil Survey Staff.  1975. Keys to Soil Taxonomy. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.  

    • Soil Survey Staff.  2006. Keys to Soil Taxonomy. 10th ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.  

     

  • Notes

    • Author 

      Jim Reardon, Physical Science Technician

      Rocky Mountain Research Station