Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0343g Newmarket 2

Soil and site characteristics
Shallow well drained calcareous coarse loamy and sandy soils over chalk rubble associated with well drained deeper coarse loamy and sandy soils often in an intricate pattern. Slight risk of water erosion.

Chalk and chalky drift
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals, peas, beans and sugar beet: some short term grassland.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
3.43 NEWMARKET 25% Calcaric Leptosols
5.11 SWAFFHAM PRIOR 15% Calcaric Endoleptic Cambisols
5.11 SOHAM 15% Calcaric Endoskeletic Cambisols
5.71 MOULTON 15% Chromic Luvisols
5.51 NEWPORT 15% Eutric Arenosols
3.43 RUDHAM 10% Calcaric Brunic Leptosols
Covers 476 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Shallow lime-rich soils over chalk or limestone

0343g Newmarket 2

Detailed Description

The association covers 443 kmĀ², mostly in west Norfolk , but also in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, with small areas in Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. The well drained component soils are formed in chalk and chalky drift and are mainly shallow or moderately deep calcareous coarse loamy soils, but there are also some non-calcareous, generally deeper, coarse loamy soils. The characteristic soil is the coarse loamy Newmarket series, which belongs to the brown rendzinas and lies directly on chalk rubble. The main associate soils are the fine loamy Rudham series, also brown rendzinas. Deeper, coarse loamy and fine loamy typical brown calcareous earths, Swaffham Prior and Soham series respectively, with chalky rubble in the lower subsoil are nearly as widespread as the rendzinas. Together all these soils cover about two-thirds of the association. Coarse loamy typical argillic brown earths of the Moulton series also occur and are recognized by a thin brown clay-enriched layer immediately above the irregular surface of the chalky substratum. Deep sandy Newport soils, typical brown sands, occasionally occur in Norfolk and Suffolk in glaciofluvial drift capping hills and in river terrace drift.

The terrain is mainly gently sloping, undulating chalkland, which often faces west or north, with the ridges separated by dry valleys. Striped soil patterns are common in Norfolk, for example near Hunstanton, where 10 metre wide strips of shallow Newmarket or Rudham soils alternate with deep Swaffham Prior or Soham series on the moderate slopes. Elsewhere, on gentler slopes, Moulton soils are the deep element in a similar pattern. Near Breckland, and in north Norfolk, close to the Cromer Ridge, are sandy soils of the Elveden, Methwold and Worlington series, similar respectively to Newmarket, Swaffham Prior and Moulton series, and Newport soils form small discrete inclusions on crests and in valleys in north-west Norfolk. In Cambridgeshire, the Newmarket series is more extensive than in Norfolk and grey, very calcareous, Upton soils also occur.

In South East England, the association is found mainly on moderate slopes on the dipslope of the Downs between Leatherhead and Guildford, on the Chilterns near Marlow and near Newbury. There is some steep land locally, especially in the Chilterns. Newmarket and Rudham series cover about half the land and, in the Chilterns, they are associated with Andover series. Soham, Swaffham Prior and Moulton soils occur with small patches of fine loamy Frilsham soils on the floors of dry valleys and on flat crests or benches.

Soil Water Regime

All the soils are permeable and well-drained (Wetness Class I). They readily absorb excess winter rainfall with little run-off, although there is a slight risk of water erosion if fields are left bare on slopes. Rooting is restricted to some degree depending on the depth and compactness of the underlying chalk rubble. Crops, however, obtain some moisture from the chalk. The deeper soils, such as the Swaffham Prior and Moulton series, are of moderate water holding capacity and are slightly to moderately droughty for most crops. Sandy Newport soils hold little water so are very droughty. The varied water holding capacities of soils are commonly shown as striped patterns by differential crop growth, particularly in dry summers.

Cropping and Land Use

The soils are all easily worked and are sufficiently well drained to be cultivated two or three days after rainfall. The main soils have favourable properties for direct drilling or reduced cultivations. There is ample time for both autumn and spring cultivations even in wet years and about half the crops are spring sown. The main crop is barley, both autumn and spring sown, with winter wheat and sugar beet next in importance. There is a little grassland mainly on steeper slopes. Although the main soils are calcareous, Newport, Moulton and Worlington soils need occasional liming.

0343g Newmarket 2

Distribution Map

Note that the yellow shading represents a buffer to highlight the location of very small areas of the association.

Keys to component soil series

Eastern Region

Typical Landscapes

Eastern Region

Eastern Region

Eastern Region

All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2024

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2024. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 19/07/2024

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