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Chernozem (Russian: Чернозём, tr. chernozyom, IPA: [tɕɪrnɐˈzʲom]; "black soil")[2] is a black-colored soil containing a high percentage of humus[3] (4% to 16%), and high percentages of phosphoric acids, phosphorus and ammonia. Chernozem is very fertile and can produce high agricultural yields with its high moisture storage capacity.[1]

Chernozemic soil
Black dirt in Black Dirt Region.jpg
Used in WRB, other
WRB code CH
Profile AhBC
Parent material Loess
Climate Humid continental[1]



Global distribution

The name comes from the Russian terms for black and soil, earth or land (chyorn + zemlya). The soil, rich in organic matter presenting a black color, was first identified by Russian geologist Vasily Dokuchaev in 1883 in the tallgrass steppe or prairie of European Russia.[1]

Chernozems cover about 230 million hectares of land.[1] There are two "chernozem belts" in the world: the Eurasian steppe which extends from eastern Croatia (Slavonia), along the Danube (northern Serbia, northern Bulgaria (Danubian Plain), southern Romania (Wallachian Plain) and Moldova) to northeast Ukraine across the Central Black Earth Region of southern Russia into Siberia, and the other from the Canadian Prairies in Manitoba through the Great Plains of the United States as far south as Kansas.[4] Similar soil types occur in Texas and Hungary. Chernozem layer thickness may vary widely, from several centimetres up to 1.5 metres (60 inches) in Ukraine,[5] as well as the Red River Valley region in the Northern United States and Canada (an area formerly known as lake Agassiz).

The terrain can also be found in small quantities elsewhere (for example, on 1% of Poland). It also exists in Northeast China, near Harbin. The only true Chernozem in Australia is located around Nimmitabel producing some of the richest soils in the nation.[6]

There is a large black market for the soil in Ukraine, where it is known as chornozem (Ukrainian: чорно́зем, translit. chornózem). The sale of agricultural land has been illegal in Ukraine since 1992, but the soil, transported by the truckload, has approximately US$900 million annually in black market sales.[7]

Canadian and United Nations soil classificationEdit

Chernozemic soils are a soil type in the Canadian system of soil classification and the United Nations' FAO soil classification.

Chernozemic soil type equivalents, in Canadian, FAO, and USA soil taxonomy
Canadian FAO United States
Chernozemic Kastanozem, Chernozem, Greyzem, Phaeozem Borolls
Brown Chernozem Kastanozem (aridic) Aridic Boroll subgroups
Dark Brown Chernozem Kastanozem (Haplic) Typic Boroll subgroups
Black Chernozem Chornozem Udic Boroll subgroups
Dark Grey Chernozem Greyzem Boralfic Boroll subgroups, Albolls


Theories of Chernozem origin:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Deckers, Jozef A.; Nachtergaele, F. (1998). World Reference Base for Soil Resources: Introduction. ACCO. pp. 61–62. ISBN 9789033441240. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  2. ^ Russia Investment and Business Guide. International Business Publications. 2007. p. 63. ISBN 9781433041686. Retrieved 11 January 2018. 
  3. ^ "Chernozem". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  4. ^ Ecology of Arable Land - Perspectives and Challenges by M. Clarholm and L. Bergström ISBN 978-94-010-6950-2
  5. ^ Ukraine: Soils in Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ KG McQueen. "Tertiary Geology And Geomorphology Of The Monaro: The Perspective In 1994" Centre For Australian Regolith Studies, Canberra 1994
  7. ^ Black market for rich black earth, Kyiv Post (9 November 2011)
  8. ^ Wallerius J. G. Agriculturae fundamenta chemica, åkerbrukets chemiska grunder. Upsaliae, 1761. 8, 4, 322 p.; The natural and chemical elements of agriculture. London, York: Bell, Etherington, 1770. 198 p.
  9. ^ Lomonosov M. V. § 125. // On the strata of the Earth: a translation of "O sloiakh zemnykh" (1763) / translated by S. M. Rowland, S. Korolev. Boulder: Geological Soc. of America, 2012. 41 p. (Special paper; 485) "And so, there is no doubt that black soil is not primordial matter, but that it has been produced by the decomposition of animal and plant bodies over time"
  10. ^ a b Geikie, A. (1875), Life of Sir Roderick I, Murchison, 1, ASIN B0095632AU 
  11. ^ Fedotova, Anastasia A. (August 2010), "The Origins of the Russian Chernozem Soil (Black Earth): Franz Joseph Ruprecht's 'Geo-Botanical Researches into the Chernozem' of 1866", Environment and History, White House Press, 16 (3): 271–293, doi:10.3197/096734010x519762, JSTOR 20723789 
  12. ^ Dokoutchaief B. Tchernozème (terre noire) de la Russie d'Europe. St.-Ptb.: Soc. Imp. libre économ., 1879. 66 p. (Comptes-rendus Soc. Imp. libre économ. T. 4).
  13. ^ Dokuchaev V. V. Russian Chernozem (1883) // Israel Program for Scientific Translations Ltd. (for USDA-NSF), S. Monson, Jerusalem, 1967. (Translated from Russian into English by N. Kaner)
  14. ^ a b Eckmeier, Eileen; Gerlach, Renate; Gehrt, Ernst; Schmidt, Michael W.I. (2007), "Pedogenesis of Chernozems in Central Europe — A review" (PDF), Geoderma, Elsevier B.V., 139: 288–299, Bibcode:2007Geode.139..288E, doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2007.01.009, archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2016 
  15. ^ Schmidt, M.W.I.; Skjemstad, J.O.; Jäger, C. (2002), "Carbon isotope geochemistry and nanomorphology of soil black carbon: Black chernozemic soils in central Europe originate from ancient biomass burning", Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 16 (4): 70–1–70–8, Bibcode:2002GBioC..16.1123S, doi:10.1029/2002GB001939, These data challenge the common paradigm that chernozems are zonal soils with climate, parent material and bioturbation dominating soil formation, and introduce fire as a novel, important factor in the formation of these soils 
  16. ^ Eckmeier, E. (2007), Detecting prehistoric fire-based farming using biogeochemical markers, University of Zurich, Faculty of Science., doi:10.5167/uzh-3752, It is now an open question as to whether Neolithic settlers did indeed prefer to grow crops where Chernozems occurred or if Neolithic burning formed the chernozemic soils. 

External linksEdit

  The dictionary definition of chernozem at Wiktionary