A new system for soil studies is presented. The proposed soil unit is the soil mantle, the pedoderm, as it occurs in the landscape. The soil mantle forms on the surficial sedimentary bodies in the landscape. These often have a diverse and intermittent history which is passed on to the soil mantles. The series of events in the development of each soil mantle is recognized as a ‘K cycle’, and buried soil mantles represent earlier K cycles subscripted K1, K2, etc. From the dating of these older mantles, based on included dateable material, there is an opportunity to test the major soil hypotheses, an opportunity which is lacking in the current soil working model.