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Cranfield University 2021. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 07/12/2021

0831b SESSAY

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Soil and site characteristics

Fine and coarse loamy often stoneless, permeable soils affected by groundwater. Associated with slowly permeable seasonally waterlogged fine loamy over clayey and clayey soils. Generally flat land.


Glaciolacustrine and glaciofluvial drift

Cropping and Land Use

Cereals, sugar beet and potatoes; some grassland.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
8.31 SESSAY 55% Mollic Gleysols
7.13 FENTON 15% Ruptic Albic Mollic Planosols
8.31 QUORNDON 15% Eutric Gleysols
7.12 FOGGATHORPE 15% Clayic Eutric Stagnosols

Covers 186 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification

Loamy soils with naturally high groundwater


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Detailed Description

The Sessay association consists of fine and coarse loamy often stoneless permeable soils affected by groundwater and slowly permeable, seasonally waterlogged clayey fine loamy over clayey soils. It occurs in the Vales of Mowbray, York and Pickering, North Yorkshire, and also in Humberside, on glaciolacustrine drift of variable texture. In the Vale of Pickering, ice blocked both the western and eastern ends, producing a lake in which clays, sands and gravels were deposited. In the Vale of York, wide expanses of drift were laid down in a similar glacial lake, and here there are complex local variations in texture. The deposits were further re-distributed by meltwater as the lake subsided, so there is now no clear relationship between soil pattern and relief. The land is flat to very gently sloping with frequent slight hollows, and ranges in height from 3 to 35 m O.D. The Sessay series, stoneless fine loamy typical cambic gley soils, forms approximately half of the association. The Fenton, fine loamy over clayey cambic stagnogley soils, the Quorndon, coarse loamy typical cambic gley soils, and the Foggathorpe series, clayey pelo-stagnogley soils, vary in proportion depending on the nature of the drift.

The Sessay association occupies approximately 171 kmĀ² and includes areas previously mapped with the Ryther series (now divided between the Quorndon and Sessay series), the former Stockbridge, now Blackwood, series and the Foggathorpe and Fenton complexes. Where sandy glaciotluvial deposits are present, as at Dalton, Raskelf, Cridling Stubbs and Temple Hirst, seasonally wet Everingham and Blackwood soils are included, with Kexbyand Ollerton soils on slightly raised areas with little seasonal waterlogging at depth. Around Church Fenton and Acaster Malbis, soils of the Portington series, with lacustrine clay within 80 cm under coarse loamy upper horizons, are common.

Soil Water Regime

Soil water regimes in this association are various and contrasting. Sessay series, with its permeable subsoil, has no restrictions to water movement but has relatively high groundwater level in winter (Wetness Classes II or III), depending on the extent of artificial drainage and the nature of the surrounding soils. The Quorndon series is usually well drained where tile drainage has been installed, although there may be some waterlogging in winter (Wetness Class I and II). The Fenton and Foggathorpe series, with their slowly permeable clayey subsoil, are waterlogged for most of the winter (Wetness Classes III and IV respectively). Mole draining has proved effective in these relatively uniform stoneless clayey soils. They all suffer from structural breakdown if the organic matter is low or if they are cultivated under adverse conditions, and surface ponding may then follow. On relatively level ground with insufficient outfall, drains can become blocked with silt and fine sand. There are ample reserves of water for crop production, and drought effects are mainly confined to grass, for which the Sessay and Foggathorpe series can be moderately droughty in a normal year.

Cropping and Land Use

When adequately drained there is good arable land, suitable for a wide range of cropping including horticulture. The Sessay and Quorndon series are naturally deficient in potassium and are also responsive to phosphorus fertilizer. In summer the crops benefit from the water which rests above the impermeable glaciolacustrine clay. The variation from sandy to clayey soils within short distances makes the planning of drainage, cropping and cultivation difficult. Sugar beet is grown on all the soils because of the nearby refinery at York. Harvesting can be difficult in some years on the heavy soils. The Fenton and Foggathorpe are good grassland soils but, because of current economic returns, cereals and root crops are grown in preference. There are only minor limitations resulting from surface wetness, and the risk of poaching is moderate or slight.


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