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Cranfield University 2021. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 01/12/2021

0812c AGNEY

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Soil and site characteristics

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


Marine alluvium

Cropping and Land Use

Cereals, sugar beet, potatoes and field vegetables.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
8.12 AGNEY 55% Fluvic Calcaric Gleysols
8.12 WISBECH 30% Fluvic Calcaric Gleysols

Covers 274 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification

Loamy and clayey soils of coastal flats with naturally high groundwater


0812c AGNEY

Detailed Description

Agney Association consists mainly of calcareous alluvial gley soils belonging to Agney and Wisbech series developed in marine alluvium on flat reclaimed land at 2 to 8 m O.D. near the coast in parts of Humberside, Lincolnshire, Essex and Wales. The soils are stoneless and silty with brownish plough layers over greyish brown mottled horizons with blocky or relic laminar structure.

Typically, Agney association has about half Agney and one third Wisbech soils; Blacktoft, Newchurch, Romney, Stockwith, Tanvats and Wallasea, and some Pagleshamand Loggans series also occur. The degree of development of soil structure in Agney and Wisbech series depends upon the time since reclamation. On recently reclaimed land the original laminated sedimentary layers occur directly below the cultivated horizon, but on older sites, blocky soil structure has developed to 50 or 60 cm depth.

In Lincolnshire, where land has been reclaimed since 1970, around the Wash and in a small area near Boston, the association is composed consistently of Agney and Romney or Wisbech soils in a complex pattern. Many Agney soils have coarse silty layers below 50 cm depth. As elsewhere, the lighter Wisbech and Romney soils are on the sites of former creeks. In north-east Lincolnshire near Tetney and Marshchapel, there are low mounds up to 3 m above general marsh level formed by the medieval salt industry. The soils of these salterns are similar to Blacktoft series. Near Donna Nook, the alluvium overlies dune sand and near the coast Loggans series is included. Occasional Wallasea and Newchurch soils are also found.

In Essex the association is mainly on the Dengie peninsula and the seaward side of Foulness and Havengore Islands. On parts of the Dengie peninsula Romney and Newchurch series are common, and near the southern end of the peninsula the association is bounded to the west by shell ridges. On Foulness and Havengore islands there are a few Newchurch soils, and soils with clayey over fine silty layers are common.

The association covers a very small area in Humberside south of Cleethorpes. Generally, Wisbech and Romney soils are on the sites of former creeks, with Agney soils in the intervening areas. There are often low mounds up to 3 m above general marsh level formed by the medieval salt industry, the soils of these salterns being similar to Blacktoft series.

Soil Water Regime

The soils are very porous with numerous root channels and burrows formed under saltmarsh before reclamation. The land is mostly drained by ditches and pumps and the soils are rarely waterlogged (Wetness Class I). Parts of the Dengie peninsula suffer occasional flooding through breaches of the sea defences. The available water reserves of the Agney series are large and the soil is non-droughty for cereals and sugar beet. Shallow-rooting crops such as potatoes may suffer drought. In the dry climate of Essex crops on Agney soils suffer slightly more from droughtiness than in Lincolnshire. There are only minor limitations on grassland growth and utilization in Lincolnshire, but in Essex, droughtiness checks summer growth. Wisbech soils are well suited to grassland as well as other crops, because of their large moisture reserves.

Cropping and Land Use

The soils are easy to cultivate, though the heavier Agney soils are less so than Wisbech soils. The laminated subsoils of recently reclaimed soils compact readily below the plough layer. There are ample days available for cultivation in autumn and spring. The soils are not well suited to direct drilling because of their high silt content and the risk of compaction.

In Lincolnshire cereals, sugar beet and potatoes are grown and the land is used extensively for field vegetables, particularly brassicas. The Agney soils are not ideal for onion crops because sticky topsoils make it difficult to get a clean crop. In Essex arable crops, including cereals, potatoes and some sugar beet are grown. Lucerne and grass are grown locally. Many parts of Foulness Island have rough grazing around military installations.


0812c AGNEY