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Lake Country Agricultural Soil

Please note: Scott is referring to an amazing glass column soil sample that is located on display at the Museum. Stop by the Museum to view the sample and experience an informative tour on Lake Country’s Wine Culture.


The soil in the glass column was collected from the O’Rourke’s Peak vineyard at Carr’s Landing.  The column shows a typical agricultural soil that occurs on the slopes overlooking Okanagan Lake and has been planted to orchards and vineyards by Lake Country fruit growers for many years. 

You might wonder from where the earth originates.  Most of the soil in Lake Country comes from the action of glaciers that moved over the landscape some 20,000 to 12,000 years ago.  They ground up the local bedrock and left behind a mix of sand, silt, clay and gravel.  The soil in the column is composed of mostly sand and silt with only a little clay or gravel. 

The column of soil in the glass cylinder shows how the earth changes from the very top, which is a dark colour with many grass roots, to a gray colour with no roots at the bottom.  If you look closely, you can see additional layers in the column with different colours.  These develop through weathering. 

Weathering is a process that occurs over thousands of years as the result of rainfall, cold and hot temperatures, vegetation growth on the surface and the action of living organisms that mix the soil and break down buried plant material.  This last activity of organisms (from gophers to earthworms to bacteria and fungus) creates the dark topsoil that farmers like so much.  Why?  Because the decayed plant material is rich in nutrients and helps the soil to hold water.  This makes the soil fertile and helps to produce healthy crops for all of us to eat.

The picture shows how this soil looks in the vineyard.  The dark layer is the topsoil is very easy to see and indicates that this soil is healthy.  The lighter colours deeper down show the subsoil which is less weathered.  Together these layers will help to produce a good crop of grapes that will produce quality Lake Country wine!  


Text and photo prepared by Scott Smith, Eterrna Consulting, Penticton, BC.



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