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Munsell Color System

The Munsell Color System describes a soil’s color, based on Hue, Value & Chroma. The Munsell Book is a collection of color chips with varying degrees of hue, value & chroma. Take a small soil sample and match it up with the appropriate color chip to determine that soil’s Munsell “code.”

High Value
light
Munsell_page
HUE
Dominant color of whole page. Mixture of Red (R)
and Yellow (Y)
 

 

 

 

 

VALUE
light vs. dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low Value
dark

Low Chroma
dull, grey
High Chroma
bright, red/yellow
CHROMA
bright vs. dull

HUES
tell you how red the soil is… 2.5YR (2.5 parts yellow to 1 red) is pretty red; 10YR (10 parts yellow to 1 red) is more yellow…

VALUES tell you how dark the soil is; A horizons are darker, with a lower value (2 or 3) due to humus. E horizons are often light colored (5 or 6 value).

CHROMA tells you how bright vs. dull the soil is; a low chroma (2 or less) means the soil is GREY, hence wet or waterlogged; higher chromas mean better drained, more oxidized soil.