Soil mineralogical variability arises from two factors. The mineralogical composition of the parent material and the degree to which the original composition has been modified by external soil forming factors and internal soil building processes during the course of weathering. Different stages of soil weathering are represented by different mineralogical compositions and therefore a different combination of physical and chemical properties. Some soil scientists have divided these weathering stages into fresh, juvenile, virile, senile, and lateritic. The ability of soil to provide nutrients to plants reaches a maximum at the beginning of the virile stage and then declines rapidly with further weathering. Most of the soils in Kentucky have passed the middle of the virile stage, and therefore, exhibit a declining availability for plant nutrients. At this stage, plant nutrient deficiencies due to advanced stage of weathering should be offset by the application of commercial fertilizers. However, because soil in each small segment of a weathering stage contains a wide range of mineralogical compositions, a variety of management practices may be required to compensate for this variability.

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