National Soil Resources Institute. Soilscapes. Cranfield University

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This section describes the natural lime status and the 'reaction' of the whole soil - whether it is naturally acid or alkaline. Soils of very low natural fertility are very acid, have low numbers of soil-living organisms and support heathland and acid woodland habitats. Soils of low natural fertility are associated with a wide range of habitat types and are usually acid in reaction. The moderate class contains neutral to slightly acid soils, again with a wide range of potential habitats. Artificial liming of farmland reduces natural soil acidity. Soils of high natural fertility are both naturally productive and able to support the base-rich pastures and woodlands that are now rarely encountered. Lime-rich soils contain chalk and limestone in excess, and are associated with downland, herb-rich pastures and chalk and limestone woodlands.



This section gives a general indication of the soil texture in the upper 30 cm of the soil. 'Light' soils have more sand grains and are described as sandy, while 'heavy' soils have few sand grains but a lot of extremely small particles and are described as clayey. Loamy soils have a mix of sand, silt and clay-sized particles and are intermediate in character. Soils that have a surface layer that is dominantly organic are described as Peaty.



All soils contain cracks and pores. Their average size and their total volume within a soil affect the speed and direction of rainwater draining through the soil. All soils act like sponges, but some are more absorbent than others. Freely draining soils absorb rainfall readily and allow it to drain through to underlying layers. Slightly impeded drainage refers to soils with a tight, compact deep subsoil that impedes downward water movement; after heavy rainfall, particularly during the winter, the subsoil becomes waterlogged. In soils with impeded drainage the effect is more severe and winter waterlogging results in very wet ground conditions. In the uplands, many soils have a greasy surface peat layer that holds water through the winter. These soils are described as having surface wetness, and can be reasonably dry beneath. In low-lying sites, permeable soils are often affected by high ground water that has drained from the surrounding landscape. They are described as naturally wet.



This section provides a general indication of the plant communities and habitats with which the soils are associated. The vegetation growing in one area provides us with a good indication of what could grow in another area with similar soils, were agricultural management inputs to be removed or modified.



This section gives an overall national indication of the use to which the soils within the unit are put.


OS grid reference

Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system (6 digits). Example,
East: 459240
North: 238450
Please note that searches are limited to England and Wales only.

More information on the Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system can be found here. Please also note that the UkGridReferenceFinder website offers tools for coverting coordinates.


Coordinates - Latitude, Longitude

Please specify geographic coordinates in decimal degrees. Example,
Latitude: 52.55
Longitude: -0.84
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More information on geographic coordinates can be found here. Please also note that the UkGridReferenceFinder website offers tools for coverting coordinates.



Thank you for using the Soilscapes viewer from the Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI), supported by Defra.

Soilscapes conveys a summary of the broad regional differences in the soil landscapes of England and Wales.

Soilscapes is not intended as a means for supporting detailed assessments, such as land planning applications or site investigations; nor should it be used to support commercial activities. For such applications, a parallel service Soils Site Reporter provides comprehensive reporting for specific locations. More detailed soil datasets are also available for lease from CSAI.

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