All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2018

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2018. The Soils Guide. Available: www.landis.org.uk. Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 21/08/2018

0532b ROMNEY

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Soil and site characteristics

Deep stoneless permeable calcareous coarse and fine silty soils. Flat land. Groundwater controlled by ditches and pumps.

Geology

Marine alluvium

Cropping and Land Use

Sugar beet, potatoes and cereals; some field vegetables and horticultural crops.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.32 ROMNEY 50% Calcaric Fluvic Endogleyic Cambisols
5.32 BLACKTOFT 40% Calcaric Fluvic Endogleyic Cambisols

Covers 266 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification

21
Loamy and clayey soils of coastal flats with naturally high groundwater

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0532b ROMNEY

Detailed Description

The Romney association consists of calcareous coarse silty soils in marine alluvium. It is widespread in Northern England and covers small areas in the Midlands and Eastern England on the tidal floodplain of the Yorkshire Ouse and Trent.

The association, which is among the most fertile in Northern England, has been formed largely by artificial warping in the 19th century. This process, which is unique to the Humber district, allowed tide-water to flood embanked land and deposit sediment for a period, before being released via sluices at a subsequent ebb tide. In this way low marshy areas were gradually built up and transformed into better quality farmland. The process was possible only because of the large quantities of sediment carried by the rivers and the unusual tidal regime of short flow and long ebb. According to Versey (1939), the sediments originated by erosion and tidal transport of the Holderness tills, but Heathcote believed that they were partly or entirely riverine. Near the mouth of the Humber estuary the sediment may be marine, but along the Trent and Ouse most of the sediment is probably riverine. The Romney association equates with what is known locally as "light warp". Finer deposits, "heavy warp", are also widespread and give rise to the Blacktoft association (ยง 25). The land is flat except for slight levees in places. Changes in height of 1 to 2 m O.D. along some field boundaries mark the edges of areas warped to differing thicknesses at different times. Altitude ranges only from 2 to 5 m O.D.

In South East England it occurs on Romney Marsh. The principal soil is the Romney series, a calcareous, coarse silty, sometimes laminated soil with faint subsoil mottling. It is stoneless, usually weakly structured and, in areas of thin warp, may overlie peat or clay at about 1.5 m depth. The Blacktoft series, which covers up to one-third of the ground has better structured fine silty upper horizons, but in places passes downwards into laminated silt loam. Both these main series belong to the gleyic brown calcareous alluvial soils. Minor associates include the Walkerith series and, locally in wet sites, the more mottled coarse silty Wisbech and fine silty Agney series

The association has been formed largely by artificial warping in the 19th century. This process allowed tide-water to flood embanked land and deposit sediment for a period, before being released through sluices at a subsequent ebb tide. In this way low marshy areas were gradually built up and transformed into better quality farmland. The process was possible only because of the large quantities of sediment carried by the rivers and the unusual tidal regime of short flow and long ebb. According to Versey (1939) the sediments originated by erosion and tidal transport of the Holderness tills, but Heathcote believed that they were partly or entirely riverine. The Romney association equates with what is known locally as light warp. Finer deposits, called heavy warp, are also widespread and give rise to the Blacktoft association. The land is flat except for slight levees in places. Changes in height of 1 to 2 m O.D. along some field boundaries mark the edges of areas warped to differing thicknesses at various times. Altitude varies only from 2 to 5 m O.D. In most places large expanses are covered only by the Romney series but elsewhere fine silty Blacktoft series is almost as common. At the upstream limit of warping, near Gainsborough, where the warp is thinnest and was until recently less well drained, the Wisbech and Agney series occur. Walkerith series occurs where there is less than 80 cm of silt over peat, and the Stockwith series where an underlying clay deposit is within 80 cm depth.

Romney Marsh has been mapped in detail by Green (1968) who gives a full account of its formation. The association occurs on three distinct land types within the calcareous "New" marshland which forms a fringe to the central core of decalcified "Old" land. The three land types reflect different stages of reclamation from the sea. The first, with a characteristic soil pattern reflecting the creeks on the former marshland, comprises a number of innings bounded by walls. The second, on mounds south and west of New Romney, may have been formed during thirteenth century storms. The third type occurs on the innings on sand flats to the east of these mounds which were walled off successively eastwards sometime after the 13th century, resulting in low land with few creek relics. Except for the ridges and low mounds and a slight levee effect along some of the creeks, the ground is flat. Changes in level mark the edges of innings reclaimed at separate times. Altitude varies only from 1 to 5 m O.D.

In most places large expanses are covered by the coarse silty Romney series, gleyic brown calcareous alluvial soils, with the similar but fine silty Blacktoft series common locally. Where the sediments are thinner and, until recently, were less well drained, profiles of the coarse silty Wisbech series and fine silty Agney series are common. The Guldeford series occurs where silty clay overlies coarse loamy or silty material, and the Stockwith series wherever an underlying clay deposit is within 80 cm.

Soil Water Regime

Groundwater levels are kept low, even in winter, by a complex system of pumped dykes. Subsoil mottling is thus relic and the association as a whole is well drained (Wetness Class I). Localized surface wetness is often the result of compaction and disappears with subsoiling. Soils are permeable and, with pumped drainage, readily absorb excess rainwater. Water is held in these soils at low tensions so it can be utilized easily by plants. This is particularly so in the Romney series where water available to plants in a normal year is well in excess of potential soil moisture deficits and droughtiness is unlikely to affect any crop, including grass. The Blacktoft series however, with less available water, is slightly droughty for grass and potatoes in an average year and very droughty for grass in a dry year.

Cropping and Land Use

The soils are fertile, well drained and easy to work, so most crops can be grown easily and profitably. Present cropping, although dominated by cereals, potatoes and sugar beet, includes oilseed rape, field vegetables and some soft fruit. There are adequate opportunities for autumn cultivation, even in a wet season. Opportunities are fewer in spring however, and barely adequate in a wet year. The soils are weakly structured because of their small organic matter and large silt and very fine sand contents. Surface capping is likely after heavy rain if seedbeds are too fine. Subsurface compaction, resulting in surface wetness, is common where sugar beet has been harvested under bad conditions late in the year. The land is suited to large scale vegetable cropping and there are processing centres nearby. As drought is rarely a limitation most crops can be grown without irrigation, although it may be advisable on potatoes. Potatoes are widely grown and eelworm damage is minimised by suitable crop rotations. Carrots could be grown much more widely and the area of red beet could be extended if required. These are fertile calcareous soils with a pH at the surface of about 7.2 rising to 7.6 or more in the subsoil horizons so lime is unnecessary.

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0532b ROMNEY

Typical Landscapes

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All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2018

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2018. The Soils Guide. Available: www.landis.org.uk. Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 21/08/2018