MUNSELL SOIL COLOUR CHART: A REVOLUTION IN SOIL ANALYSIS

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The land we stand is the literal base of human civilisation. But until a few centuries ago, we knew very little about it. Munsell’s soil chart was a breakthrough in understanding and categorising soil. Munsell soil colour chart is a methodology used by soil analysts to identify the characteristics of the soil. It is an efficient tool introduced by Professor Albert H Munsell that has revolutionised how one characterises soil. Most Munsell Soil Colour Charts are seen in a book format. It finds use in other fields, like the automotive where it is used in colour matching and artists who use it select colours. The book consists of various colours arranged according to their shades. Every shade translates to a different kind of soil with its unique characters.

The colour of the soil that is seen is the result of the soil’s reflection of sunlight. if one wants to categorise soil using the Munsell colour chart, one must know about its three components:

  1. Hue: denotes the dominant Spectral colours
  2. Value: describes the lightness or darkness
  3. Chroma: Purity or strength of a colour
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The soil colour chart uses both numerical and alphabets to express these three variables. Each soil type has a unique value for all three variables. These three can determine the main characteristics of the soil. Now that it is clear what the Munsell soil colour chart is, let’s see how one can use it.

A person taking a sample of the soil takes a piece of the soil and compares its colour with the given colours in the book, the one that matches provides the hue, value and chroma. 

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BENEFITS

Mansell’s colour chart was an important invention and changed the way the soil is studied. Before its invention, understanding the soil’s characters on the place of sampling was impossible. It would take days to get any information. But one can now know all the major characters of the soil without any analysis. Now almost every soil sampling organisation relay on Soil colour charts to get preliminary observations. 

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It would be an understatement to say this revolutionised soil analysis. The fastness and efficiency that this method provided were unparalleled. It was also cost-effective. It is a perfect choice for soil sampling in rural areas of developing countries. Soil sampling is essential for agriculture, construction, mining etc. Before starting any of these processes, one must know if the soil is suitable for it. Time is a crucial factor for excavators because any wasted time can cost them money and resources. And finding an ideal site may take months. It is essential to take samples all around the location to determine if the soil contains resources. The soil colour chart’s introduction has reduced time and resources considerably.

Farmers require knowledge about their land to grow to get the maximum yield out of their land, but getting to know about a large area can be a tiring and resource-intensive process. Munsell Colour System Charts have made this process faster and easier. Hectares of land can be reviewed and segregated in a matter of hours. This is important because soil structure and profile may vary in the same farm, and knowledge about every square inch of soil is essential to assure maximum output. 

The easy-to-use nature of Munsell’s chart has made many people take up soil profiling as a hobby. 

The Munsell colour chart system has influenced our lives though very few people know about it. It is simple yet powerful, which makes it truly exceptional. The land we stand on holds many astonishing secrets. Munsell soil colour chart is a key to understanding many such secrets. It is never too late to grab a shovel and start digging to find out what the muddy mass below you can offer.

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Vinay Kumar
Student. Coffee ninja. Devoted web advocate. Subtly charming writer. Travel fan. Hardcore bacon lover