Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations


Soil and site characteristics
Well drained sandy and coarse loamy soils over soft sandstone. Occasional deeper soils. Risk of water and wind erosion

Permo-Triassic and Carboniferous reddish sandstone
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals and potatoes, horticultural and fruit crops; some permanent grassland and woodland on steep slopes.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.51 BRIDGNORTH 50% Arenic Endoleptic Regosols
5.41 BROMSGROVE 20% Eutric Chromic Endoleptic Cambisols
5.51 CUCKNEY 15% Eutric Rubic Arenosols
5.51 NEWPORT 10% Eutric Lamellic Arenosols
Covers 671 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid sandy soils

Alert ! - sandy soils read the alert


Detailed Description

This association consists of well drained reddish sandy and coarse loamy soils developed in Permo-Triassic sandstone. It is very extensive throughout the Midlands and South West England and also occurs in Cumbria. Slopes are normally gentle to moderate but locally are steep bordering rivers; altitudes range from 50 to 200 m O.D. The predominant soils belong to the Bridgnorth series, typical brown sands with permeable sandy profiles developed in reddish sandstone which is hard and consolidated within 80 cm of the surface. In other places where the sandstone is soft and unconsolidated to at least 80 cm depth, Bromsgrove and Cuckney series are found. The former are coarse loamy typical brown earths, the latter are typical brown sands which have been previously mapped as part of the Bridgnorth series (Hollis 1978). Both soils pass to soft sandstone within 1.2 m of the soil surface. Pockets of deep sandy drift give soils of the Newport series. The association covers approximately 435 km² mainly around Kidderminster, Bridgnorth in Shropshire and near Lichfield, Rugeley and Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. It is also found on the mid-Cheshire ridge, near Melbourne in Derbyshire, north of the Trent in Nottinghamshire, on the Wirral and in south-east Lancashire. Near Lichfield, Cuckney and Newport series are the main subsidiary soils. Near Penkridge, Rugeley and Cannock on finer grained sandstones there are more coarse loamy soils of the Bromsgrove series than elsewhere. Resistant bands of sandstone give rise to reddish coarse loamy soils of the Eardiston series, which have rock within 80 cm of the surface. Around Stoke-on-Trent the Bridgnorth and Bromsgrove series are co-dominant but some Eardiston, Cuckney and Newport soils also occur. Between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, and at Barnt Green, south of Birmingham, the association consists almost exclusively of Bridgnorth, Cuckney and Bromsgrove soils. In north Staffordshire near Leek, and in Nottinghamshire, the reddish Triassic sandstones have been mapped recently by the British Geological Survey as the Sherwood Sandstone Group and support largely Bridgnorth, Bromsgrove and Cuckney soils. In Nottinghamshire and near Repton in Derbyshire, the association is often on moderately steep or steep slopes. Small areas have been mapped on the Wirral peninsula where there are some humo-ferric podzols of the Delamere series on an area of heath north of Heswall. The association also occurs either side of the Mersey near Runcorn and Warrington.

The association covers 74 km² mainly in Devon around Exeter, with smaller patches in Gloucestershire north of Newent. Most of the soils are well drained sandy Bridgnorth and Cuckney series with some coarse loamy soils of the Bromsgrove series. In Devon the soils extend over Permian sandstones along the Exe estuary north from Dawlish into the valleys of the Exe, Culm and Clyst. Much of the land is gently undulating with Bridgnorth, Cuckney and Bromsgrove soils predominating. Also included are some strips of ground-water gley soils along narrow valleys, mapped formerly by Clayden (1971) as the Cutton series, with podzols of the Crannymoor series mostly under woodland. Locally, breccias carry very stony soils of the Crediton series. To the east, in the Otter valley, where smaller areas are mapped over Triassic sandstones mainly on steep slopes, Bridgnorth soils predominate. In Gloucestershire, on rolling Triassic sandstone country, Bridgnorth soils occupy steep slopes and Cuckney and Bromsgrove soils are on relatively level ground.

The association covers 76 km² near Penrith in Cumbria, on part of the Triassic sandstone outcrop of the Vale of Eden and is flanked to the east by the Pennine escarpment. Relief is undulating and altitude ranges between 150 and 250 m O.D. Sandy Bridgnorth and Cuckney and coarse loamy Eardiston and Bromsgrove soils are co-dominant but the Newport series is less common than in other regions. Small areas with till overlying the sandstone are included and these give Salwick and Clifton series. Arrow soils are common locally.

Soil Water Regime

The well drained porous sandy and coarse loamy soils of this association are rarely wet (Wetness Class I) and well managed land readily absorbs winter rainfall even on the occasional steep slopes.

Cropping and Land Use

The Bridgnorth association provides easily worked light land on gentle to moderate slopes which favour arable cultivation. Permanent grassland is restricted to moderately steep slopes while the steepest slopes in Nottinghamshire are wooded. A wide range of crops can be grown including cereals, potatoes, sugar beet, horticultural crops, including vegetables, and soft fruit (strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants). Reserves of available soil moisture are small, however, especially in the Bridgnorth series, and there is a risk of drought in many areas. In the driest districts, for example around Kidderminster, all the sandy soils of the unit are very droughty for grass and moderately droughty for other crops. This drought risk becomes smaller in central and north Staffordshire where moisture deficits are generally less than 125 mm. Irrigation is used in varying degrees to combat droughtiness particularly for demanding crops such as potatoes, but deep rooting crops such as sugar beet are less commonly grown because of the widespread rooting restriction in these soils. Cultivations are easy to perform and the period available for autumn landwork is long; substantial opportunities also exist in the spring even in the wetter localities. Topsoils dry rapidly and can be worked soon after rainfall with little risk of structural damage, which is an advantage when growing late harvested crops. Although all the soils are inherently extremely porous throughout, compaction occurs after repeated arable cultivations with heavy machinery and this impedes downward movement of water. Subsequent surface and internal slaking often intensifies impedence and the resulting ploughpans need to be broken up by regular subsoiling. Organic matter contents decline under continued arable use and are difficult to restore without recourse to short-term ley grassland. Additions of farmyard manure are desirable to sustain organic matter levels but there is rarely sufficient available from the arable farming systems commonly practised. Consequently topsoil structure which is largely dependent on organic matter in these soils is often weakly developed. Erosion is common and sometimes severe on moderate to steep slopes in arable use and gullies at least 30 cm deep have been observed after heavy rain on such slopes particularly in the Kidderminster and Bridgnorth districts. Nutrients are easily leached from all the constituent soils because of rapid permeability. Regular applications of lime and suitable fertilizers are necessary, therefore, to prevent impoverishment.

Around Exeter, all the soils are very droughty for grass, and with the exception of Bromsgrove series, moderately droughty for cereals. The considerable risk of drought for potatoes, and for vegetables and soft fruits around Newent is avoided by irrigation.

In the North These soils are mainly under permanent or temporary grassland, with livestock rearing and dairying the principal farm enterprises. Barley and fodder crops for consumption by stock, and potatoes, are also grown. Reserves of available soil moisture are small, particularly for grass, but these are offset by the wet climate so that risk of drought is normally only slight or moderate, and good grass yields are possible. There is little risk of poaching and the soils can be densely stocked. Winter use is possible in dry periods.


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

South Western Region


Northern Region

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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