Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0541r WICK 1

Soil and site characteristics
Deep well drained coarse loamy and sandy soils locally over gravel. Some similar soils affected by groundwater. Slight risk of water erosion.

Glaciofluvial or river terrace drift
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals and some horticultural crops in drier lowlands; stock rearing and dairying in Cumbria.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.41 WICK 45% Eutric Cambisols
5.43 ARROW 20% Eutric Endogleyic Cambisols
5.51 NEWPORT 15% Eutric Arenosols
Covers 2531 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils

Alert ! - sandy soils read the alert

0541r WICK 1

Detailed Description

The Wick association occurs widely throughout Northern England, the Midlands and Wales but is inextensive in Eastern and South West England. Deep well drained coarse loamy typical brown earths, Wick series, are intermixed with gleyic brown earths, Arrow series and typical brown sands, Newport series. Wick and Arrow series are sandy loam throughout; the former is unmottled but the latter has greyish and ochreous mottles, attributable to wetness, below 40 cm. Both have sandy subsoils and, in river terrace deposits, usually overlie gravel. The soils are in glaciofluvial and terrace drift of variable stoniness, and in local Head.

The association covers about 780 km² throughout the Midlands region but is most extensive in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. It is found mainly on level river terraces and the older glaciofluvial deposits. On the terraces, Wick series is dominant with Hall Arrow and Newport the main subsidiaries. Locally, high groundwater levels give small patches of Quorndon series . On dissected terraces along small streams, patches of country rock with Whimple and Worcester soils are included. Narrow strips of Fladbury series are also included. Along the Avon, near Stratford, and the Trent near Nottingham, loamy soils similar to the Escrick and Bishampton series occur. Paleo-argillic soils of the Norton and Broadheath series, occur on the highest terraces of the Severn near Worcester, and the fine loamy Hopsford series is included along the Blythe and Trent valleys in east Staffordshire. In Lancashire the soils are mapped mainly on terrace deposits in the Lune valley but also on stony, coarse till derived from Lake District rocks, around Morecambe. The soils here were originally mapped with the Lowick association by Hall and Folland (1970) The glaciofluvial deposits, which have few Hall soils, are most common in Staffordshire and Cheshire. Here the Wick series predominates but is less common than on the river terraces, and the Newport series is the main subsidiary soil. The deposits become more sandy northward and Newport soils are inci easingly common. Around Macclesfield there are small peaty hollows that limit land use. In north-west Leicestershire and south Derbyshire, Escrick soils are a common associate and Salwick and Clifton series occur where the coarse loamy drift thins over fine loamy till. The association covers 355 km² in Wales from sea level to 275 m O.D. It occurs along the Menai Strait, in the Alun, Dee and Usk valleys, the Vales of Glamorgan, Clwyd and Conwy and in scattered patches elsewhere. In places there are pockets of fine loamy or coarse loamy soils over gravel with hard quartzitic stones, Rheidol series and Hall series, or more commonly, deep fine loamy brown earths, East Keswick series. There are also small patches of Nercwys, Brickfield, Salwick or Clifton soils. Some soils have been marled where calcareous red clay is nearby. There are small pockets of Meline series west of Conwy, but Newport and Ollerton soils are virtually absent. In south Wales the soils occur on river terraces and hummocky glaciofluvial deposits in the valleys, and on morainic drift at the northern edge of the Vale of Glamorgan, where they are frequently related to kame and kettle terrain. The Wick and Hall series are the main soils and the Newport series is rare.

There are small areas in Lincolnshire on glaciofluvial sand and gravel on the Jurassic limestone dipslope south-west of Bourne and east of the Wolds near Alford where the soils overlie brownish till. It is more widespread in Northamptonshire principally on low-lying river terraces flanking the Nene west of Northampton.

In South West England the association is confined to low terraces beside the floodplain of the Severn and Avon, north of Gloucester. The soils are somewhat finer textured than further north, and Newport soils are absent. Stoneless Wick soils, on the 3rd and 5th Severn terraces, usually have a sandy loam topsoil but stony Wick soils on the 2nd and 4th terraces often have a sandy clay loam topsoil. Occasional inclusions of Arrow soils occur adjacent to the floodplain and where the terrace deposits thin out over reddish mudstone.

The association covers 1032 km² in Northern England, occurring up to 250 m O.D. in the lowlands fringing the Cheviot Hills, in North Yorkshire, Humberside and north-east Cumbria, including the valleys of a number of major rivers. The soil pattern can be variable but is generally more uniform in river terrace than in glaciofluvial deposits. Wick and Arrow series are the main soils where the association occurs on glaciofluvial drift. In Cumbria, Salwick soils occur on patches of reddish till, the thickness of the coarse loamy drift above the till controlling the soil pattern. Similarly, in Northumberland, the fine loamy Nercwys series is found. The Newport series is more common in Northumberland, where Ollerton and Ellerbeck series are also found, on inextensive deposits of sands and gravels; and the Quorndon series may occur in wetter depressions. Near Bridlington, Quorndon soils are common, together with soils containing calcareous horizons. Argillic profiles occur in Northumberland, and some brown podzolic soils in Cumbria. Occasionally, Arrow or Ollerton profiles have compact subsoils or fragipans. The stones are mostly hard and subrounded, of greywacke, sandstone or, near the Lake District and Cheviots, igneous composition. On the terraces of the rivers Esk, Eden, Wear, Tees and Swale, the Wick and Hall series are dominant. Elsewhere river terraces include Arrow and Quorndon series. Alluvial and peaty soils are occasionally included.

Soil Water Regime

The main soils are permeable and well drained (Wetness Class I), and although the Arrow series is waterlogged for short periods in winter when undrained (Wetness Class II), groundwater levels are easily controlled. The soils readily absorb winter rainwater.

Cropping and Land Use

This is good farmland and crops grown include wheat, barley, sugar beet and potatoes, with some horticulture. Except where slopes are steep or topsoils excessively stony, the soils are particularly well suited for cultivation, including direct drilling, because of their coarse textures, large porosity and generally small retained water. Both spring and autumn ploughing is possible on these soils. The permeable topsoil dries out sufficiently for cultivation after a few rain-free days during winter and spring, though care is needed to avoid compaction and panning. Subsoiling may be needed to break up pans and increase rooting depth. The content of organic matter is diminished by intensive arable cropping and this increases the risk of erosion, exacerbates droughtiness and reduces the ability of the soil to retain nutrients. The Arrow series resembles the Wick, except that it is less droughty for potatoes in a normal year. Newport soils are droughtier than Wick for all crops. Grass is not a common crop but occurs in some arable rotations. It yields well in Cheshire and Lancashire but in southern and eastern districts there is some drought restriction and consequent reduction in yield. There is little risk of poaching and dense stocking is possible with outwintering possible in most places. The soils are suitable for slurry spreading and pollution risk is minimal.

Dairying and livestock rearing predominate in Cumbria and the Pennines, where they are based on intensive grassland with cereal breaks and additional root crops in places. In the eastern lowlands much land is in cultivation, the crops including wheat, barley, sugar beet and potatoes, with some horticulture. Except where land is steep or topsoil excessively stony the soils are particularly well suited for cultivation, including direct drilling, because of coarse texture, large porosity and generally small retained water capacity. There is considerable flexibility for land work in autumn and spring, and even in wetter western districts some spring work is usually possible. The permeable topsoils dry out sufficiently after a few days without rain to permit ploughing and other cultivations at intervals during winter and spring. Cultivation pans may be caused by heavy machinery however, necessitating subsoiling. Organic matter levels may also fall as a result of intensive arable cropping, increasing the risk of wind erosion and droughtiness and reducing the ability of the soil to retain nutrients.

Grassland yields are high in the moister western districts with only slight to moderate risk of poaching, and there is normally adequate water. There may however be slight summer droughtiness near the Solway Firth, with some reduction in yield. Dense stocking is possible and stock can be wintered outside in dry periods, but the large content of fine sand and silt can cause structural instability, with surface smearing in wet conditions. The soils are suitable for slurry application and there is little pollution risk where the moisture deficit is more than 100 mm. East of the Pennines and the Northumberland hills there is a slight to moderate restriction on grass yields because of droughtiness. There may however be a flush of growth for up to a month in autumn in some eastern districts.

The land is very suitable for forestry but unlikely to be much planted because of its agricultural value. Woodland occurs at Inglewood Forest at Penrith, near Jervaulx Abbey in lower Wensleydale and near Doncaster. Scots pine is common to all, with mixtures of Corsican pine in the Doncaster area where the atmosphere is dry and somewhat polluted; Norway spruce and larch mixtures with sycamore in Wensleydale; and larch and Douglas fir in Inglewood Forest.

0541r WICK 1

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



Northern Region

Typical Landscapes





Eastern Region

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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 16/07/2024

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