Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0541p MALHAM 2

Soil and site characteristics
Well drained often stoneless silty soils over limestone, shallow in places especially on crests and steep slopes. Bare rock locally.

Aeolian silty drift over Carboniferous limestone and Triassic limestone breccia
Cropping and Land Use
Dairying and stock rearing on permanent grassland; some spring cereals.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.41 MALHAM 70% Eutric Endoleptic Cambisols
3.13 CRWBIN 15% Eutric Leptosols
Covers 429 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid but base-rich soils

0541p MALHAM 2

Detailed Description

This association is mapped where a variable thickness of silty aeolian drift overlies limestone in the Peak District of Derbyshire and Staffordshire and in the Vale of Glamorgan. The dominant soils are Malham series (typical brown earths) and Crwbin series (brown rankers). Malham soils predominate on gently and moderately sloping ground and cover three-quarters of the land. They are shallow or moderately deep fine silty soils with a characteristic brown unmottled subsoil over hard limestone. Upper horizons are usually stoneless but the subsoil is stony immediately over limestone. The loamy shallow Crwbin soils occur on convex sites and steep slopes, often between rock outcrops. Both soils are well drained. There are small pockets of typical paleo-argillic brown earths (Nordrach series) on gentle slopes or level sites and some deep accumulations of silty drift, often in valley bottoms. Wetton soils, which have humose topsoils, occur on the steeptst sites or adjacent to rock outcrops. In the Peak District the association covers 330 km² of land. Occasional ironpan stagnopodzols (Lonsdale series) are found on high ground, particularly on unimproved or stony land. The soil pattern is broken by thin strips of fine loamy Trusham series (on basic igneous and pyroclastic rocks that are common within the limestones. Fine loamy typical brown earths of the Waltham series (Courtney and Findlay 1978) are developed in thin Head from these lavas and tuffs. There are bands of chert in the limestones and, above and adjacent to them, Malham soils are moderately or very stony to the surface. In the south-west Peak District reddish clayey rankers of the Torbryan series (George 1978) are common. A narrow strip of mudstone with associated dark variants of Denbigh and Powys series is included on the eastern fringe, particularly between Matlock and Elton. This association is mapped on Carboniferous limestone in south Gower and on the downlands of the Vale of Glamorgan where most was formerly mapped as Lulsgate series by Crampton (1972). The association also includes soils on Triassic limestone conglomerate where reddish fine loamy brown earths belonging to Wrington series and reddish, clayey rankers of the Torbryan series are common. The Worcester series occurs locally where red mudstones outcrop with the conglomerate, as around Coychurch near Bridgend. In total the association covers 90 km².

Soil Water Regime

The dominant soils are porous and are underlain by fractured and well jointed limestone which ensures good profile drainage (Wetness Class I). The land therefore absorbs winter rainwater easily and there are no streams.

Cropping and Land Use

The climate is cold, wet and exposed with a growing season of only 180 to 200 days, growth rarely starting before late April. Cereal cropping is found only below 300 m O.D. or on sheltered land, and grass is the dominant crop. The soils have good physical properties for grassland, and poaching occurs only under intensive stocking. The moderate profile available water of 100 to 150 mm in Malham soils (depending on depth to limestone) well exceeds the mean maximum potential soil moisture deficit of about 55 mm; thus drought is not limiting except in dry years or on the shallow Crwbin soils. Despite the late start to growth annual grass yields are large where fertilizers are used efficiently but the climate makes harvesting difficult. Malham soils are easily cultivated except locally where they contain many chert stones, which wear down implements rapidly. Some spring barley is grown but yields vary because of frost heave, wind damage, humidity related diseases and a late harvest. Malham soils are very suitable for seed potato production but at present this capability is exploited only locally. Crwbin soils are not easily cultivated because they are shallow, often rocky and on steep slopes. The soils are naturally acid and have inherently low phosphorus and potassium levels. Consequently the soils require regular lime and fertilizer dressings, particularly of potash on fields mown for hay and silage. Despite satisfactory soil levels of copper and molybdenum, copper deficiencies in stock, especially sheep and calves, would be common if they were not corrected by minerals in supplementary feeds. Along lead rakes and surrounding disturbed ground, high lead and fluorine levels in herbage affect the health of stock, particularly young lambs. In Wales Malham soils are easy to cultivate except where they contain many stones, which wear implements rapidly. The less stony Nordrach soils are easily worked. Crwbin soils are more difficult to cultivate because they are shallow, rocky and often steeply sloping. The climate, with 1,100 mm of rainfall annually, is relatively dry for Wales so there is some arable farming on these well drained soils and vegetables are grown on the Gower for the Swansea market. However, the period of winter landwork is short, and confined to autumn in most years. Reserves of available moisture in Malham and Nordrach soils are sufficient for most crops in most years, but the Crwbin series is moderately droughty for all crops and very droughty for grass. These soils provide good grassland, with little poaching risk, but summer growth is poor on Crwbin series.

0541p MALHAM 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



Typical Landscapes



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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 15/07/2024

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