There are 78 different types of soil identified within the Jericho borders, a product of the area’s dynamic glacial past. Distinguishing one soil from another is the product of several factors, including the type of bedrock underlying all other deposits, the surficial material coating the bedrock, the steepness of slope on which the soil lies, the climate or microclimate that determines the rate of decomposition, the size of soil particles, and the mineral composition of the soil itself.
Why do we bother dividing soils into different types? Soil structure often dictates what types of vegetation will grow naturally on a landscape, and human activities and land use practices are often more suitable on one type of soil over another. Farming, for example, is most productive on soils with relatively high clay content that has mixed with sand for better drainage. Also, it tends to be level and free of many rocks. Although most of Vermont was cleared for farming at some point in the state’s history, we can actually see a relationship between soil type and date of farm abandonment, where the prime soils are most likely to remain farms even today. Most of the prime soils are located along river floodplains, where clay was once deposited when the land was covered by a lake, but where sand has more recently been mixed with the clays. Upland farms, with soils derived from rocky glacial till, were often the first to be abandoned.
Certain trees and vegetation may also grow better in one soil than another, which eventually leads to animal habitat also partially corresponding to soil type.