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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
Dominant color of whole page. Mixture of Red (R)
and Yellow (Y)





light vs. dark







Low Value

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

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.