Humusica 1, article 5: Terrestrial humus systems and forms — Keys of classification of humus systems and forms

Augusto Zanella*, Jean François Ponge, Bernard Jabiol, Giacomo Sartori, Ekart Kolb, Renée Claire Le Bayon, Jean Michel Gobat, Michaël Aubert, Rein de Waal, Bas van Delft, Andrea Vacca, Gianluca Serra, Silvia Chersich, Anna Andreetta, Raimo Kõlli, Jean Jacques Brun, Nathalie Cools, Michael Englisch, Herbert Hager, Klaus KatzensteinerAlain Brêthes, Cristina De Nicola, Anna Testi, Nicolas Bernier, Ulfert Graefe, Ugo Wolf, Jérôme Juilleret, Andrea Garlato, Silvia Obber, Paola Galvan, Roberto Zampedri, Lorenzo Frizzera, Mauro Tomasi, Damien Banas, Fabrice Bureau, Dylan Tatti, Sandrine Salmon, Roberto Menardi, Fausto Fontanella, Vinicio Carraro, Diego Pizzeghello, Giuseppe Concheri, Andrea Squartini, Dina Cattaneo, Linda Scattolin, Serenella Nardi, Gianni Nicolini, Franco Viola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This article is an as simple as possible key of classification of terrestrial (aerobic, not submersed) topsoils (organic and organic-mineral series of soil horizons). Based on the introduction exposed in Humusica 1, article 1, and using vocabulary and definitions listed in article 4, a classification is proposed for better understanding the biological functioning of the soil, partially disclosing the process of litter digestion. Five types of terrestrial topsoils, called terrestrial humus systems, are described and illustrated with the help of photographs. Within each humus system, 3–4 humus forms are also revealed, corresponding to similar series of soil horizons generated in a relatively homogeneous environment whose range of ecological factors is not so large to overstep and cause the genesis of another different humus system. The article ends with a figure that shows the relationship between Tangel and Amphi humus systems, and a dichotomous key of classification that one can easily print and bring in the field for practicing humus classification.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-86
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Humus
  • Humus classification
  • Humus forms
  • Humus systems
  • Humusica
  • Terrestrial humus forms

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