Soil Types

When looking to buy land it is always important to consider the soil type in relation to the use of the land. Each soil type has different properties - divided into six categories.

Chalky Soil
Sometimes called basic soils, they are always very alkaline. Chalk is a solid, soft rock which breaks down easily. It is very free draining, and chalky soils hold little water and dry out easily. Chalky soils are fertile, but many of the nutrients are not available to plants because of the high alkalinity of the soil, which prevents the absorption of iron by plant roots.

Clay Soil
The clay forms a heavy mass which makes it difficult for air, water and plant roots to move through the soil when wet. Once dry they form rock-hard clots. Blue or grey clays have poor aeration and must be loosened in order to support healthy growth. Red colour in clay soil indicates good aeration and a "loose" soil that drains well. Plants can take advantage of the high level of nutrients if drainage is adequate.

Loam Soil
Considered to be the perfect soil, a mix of 40 % sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. Due to mix variations loam can range from easily workable fertile soils full of organic matter, to densely packed sod. Characteristically they drain well, yet retain moisture and are nutrient rich, making them ideal for cultivation.

Peat Soil
Provided they are not too acid and have effective sub drainage, these are rich in plant foods. Converting existing soil into a peat type soil is achieved by adding large amounts of organic matter. You must avoid making your soil too acid though, and careful choice of organic matter is needed.

Sandy Soils
Sandy soils generally have a fine grained texture. They retain very little in the way of water, fertilizers or nutrients which means they are extremely poor. Prone to over-draining and summer dehydration, and in wet weather can have problems retaining moisture and nutrients and can only be revitalized by the addition of organic matter. Sandy soils are light and easy to dig, hoe and weed.

Silty Soil
Silty soil is considered to be among the most fertile of soils. Silt is often found in river estauries, because the fine particles are washed downstream and deposited when the water flows more slowly. It is also soft and smooth, with individual pieces close together. It too holds a lot of water, but the slightly larger particles make it a little better at draining than clay.

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