Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0571g FYFIELD 4

Soil and site characteristics
Deep well drained often stoneless coarse loamy and sandy soils. Some fine loamy soils with slowly permeable subsoils and slight seasonal waterlogging and some slowly permeable seasonally waterlogged fine loamy over clayey soils. Risk of water erosion.

Mesozoic and Tertiary sand and loam
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals and short term grassland with vegetables and fruit in the South East Region, much dairying in the South West.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.71 FYFIELD 50% Chromic Luvisols
5.72 BURSLEDON 20% Endostagnic Luvisols
5.54 FRILFORD 10% Arenic Luvisols
5.54 STANDHILL 10% Arenic Chromic Luvisols
7.11 KINGSTON 5% Eutric Albic Luvic Stagnosols
7.11 WICKHAM 5% Eutric Luvic Planosols
Covers 411 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils

0571g FYFIELD 4

Detailed Description

This association is widespread in the south of England. It occurs on Corallian beds in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire; on Tertiary formations in north and west Kent, Essex, Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset; and on Lower Greensand in West Sussex, Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The land is undulating with gentle and moderate slopes. The main Fyfield soils are brown coarse loamy typical argillic brown earths which pass down to sand or sandstone, as do the associated Frilford and Standhill soils, which are brown medium and fine sandy argillic brown sands respectively. There are some Wickham and Kingston soils, mottled fine loamy over clayey typical stagnogley soils. Wickham soils pass downwards to clay or mudstone and Kingston soils to interbedded sands and clays. Bursledon soils, slightly mottled fine loamy, stagnogleyic argillic brown earths over interbedded sands and clays occur in places.

The interbedded parent materials give an unpredictable soil distribution though Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils which are most common are often found on hilltops and Bursledon, Kingston and Wickham soils on interbedded sands and clays commonly occupy lower slopes. In Eastern England, this association occurs principally on gentle slopes in south Essex where Thanet, Woolwich and Blackheath beds emerge from beneath Thames terrace gravels. Kingston and Wickham soils are largely absent and Standhill soils are a more common associate than Frilford soils. The soils are often slightly stony with small flint pebbles derived from Tertiary beds.

In Dorset this association occurs from Dorchester to the Hampshire border on Reading Beds; in places the soils are stony with flint pebbles derived from the Tertiary strata. Small areas of Shirrell Heath and Sonning soils occur on patches of Plateau Gravel. South of Bromham, in north-west Wiltshire, fine loamy Dundale soils are common and to the north become co-dominant with Fyfield.

In West Sussex, on a small area of Lower Greensand around Henfield, Fyfield and Frilford series are most common on high ground and in the south, and Bursledon, Kingston and Wickham soils on low ground to the north. Near Petersfield, on the Folkestone and Sandgate Beds of the Lower Greensand, there are few Frilford or Standhill soils. Shabbington and Fladbury soils are present near streams and Waterstock soils on small remnants of river terraces. On the Isle of Wight, Wickham and Kingston series are rare associate soils on the Lower Greensand but Dundale and Rivington soils are common. Fyfield, Rivington and Frilford soils dominate on the Carstone and Sandrock Beds; Bursledon and Ellingham soils are common on the Ferruginous Sands. Maplestead soils occur in drift in valley bottoms.

On Tertiary beds in London and north-west Kent, Fyfield and Standhill soils are the most common on Thanet Beds with finer-textured Bursledon, Kingston and Wickham soils on the overlying Woolwich and Reading Beds. In west Kent, Shirrell Heath soils are included on small outliers of Oldhaven and Blackheath Beds. Here the soils are often pebbly with small flints derived from the Tertiary strata. On Reading Beds in west Hampshire, sandy Frilford and Standhill soils are more extensive components than elsewhere.

Soil Water Regime

Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils are permeable, well drained (Wetness Class I) and readily absorb excess winter rain. Kingston and Wickham soils have slowly permeable subsoils and are seasonally waterlogged (Wetness Class III or IV), even when drained. Bursledon soils have slowly permeable subsoils and are occasionally waterlogged (Wetness Class II) in north-east Wiltshire and east Dorset, and seasonally waterlogged (Wetness Class III) in south Dorset. With the exception of Frilford series, all soils have moderate reserves of water and are usually non-droughty for cereals and slightly or moderately droughty for potatoes and grass. Frilford soils with their small available water content are more droughty for all crops.

Cropping and Land Use

The land is mainly arable with some grassland and mixed farming. There are plenty of opportunities for autumn and spring cultivations on Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils, but spring cultivations need careful timing on the component slowly permeable soils. All soils, particularly Frilford series, become acid unless limed regularly. Summer growth of grass is limited by droughtiness particularly on Frilford soils. This reduces the yield and the stock the land can carry. Poaching risk is negligible on Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils but there is slight risk on Bursledon, Kingston and Wickham soils.

In the South West in drier districts, for example near Wimborne Minster, there are ample opportunities to cultivate Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils, except in spring in a wet year. In the wetter climate of south Dorset and elsewhere, spring cultivations are difficult even on these permeable soils since they usually remain above field capacity until the middle of April or later. There are few opportunities to safely cultivate the heavier, wetter soils in spring and in south Dorset autumn cultivations are also restricted. Grass production is not restricted by drought except on Frilford soils and on the other soils in the driest districts. Because of the mild climate and abundant rainfall there is an autumn flush of growth for a month in most places after the soils return to field capacity. Poaching risk is negligible or slight on the Frilford, Fyfield and Standhill soils but moderate on the heavier, wetter soils.

There is some horticulture including fruit-growing in north-west Kent and in Oxfordshire, which benefits from irrigation. In most districts, summer growth of grass is limited, particularly on Frilford soils, although in south Hampshire production is enhanced by an autumn flush of growth. Elsewhere the check in summer growth reduces the yield and the number of stock the land can carry. There is negligible poaching risk on Fyfield, Frilford and Standhill soils, a slight risk on Bursledon soils and a moderate risk on Kingston and Wickham soils. All the component soils, particularly Frilford series, become acid unless limed regularly.

Fyfield and Bursledon soils are very productive for forestry, have few limitations to tree growth and are suited to a wide range of species. Corsican pine, Douglas fir, Norway spruce, larches, western hemlock and western red cedar are all well suited. Pedunculate oak and beech grow well on the less acid soils. Frilford and Standhill soils tend to be acid and suffer from drought in summer. They are generally deficient in phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen and are best suited to Scots and Corsican pines and Douglas fir. The generally wetter conditions on Kingston and Wickham soils restrict the choice of crop to Corsican pine and Norway spruce although western red cedar and western hemlock also grow well. Beech and oak grow slowly on these wetter soils. Ploughing before planting assists weed control and surface drainage, but the fine-textured topsoils restrict the use of machinery in winter and spring.

Many of the woodlands have been managed as coppice-with-standards and often have a wide range of native trees, shrubs and herbs indicating that they are very old. The flora generally reflects the acid nature of the soils. Sessile and pedunculate oak are the main standards with some beech and sweet chestnut. Small-leaved lime also occurs. Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and bramble (Rubus spp.) with bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) dominate the field layer often accompanied by wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa) and honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) and butcher's broom (Ruscus aculeatus) occur locally.

0571g FYFIELD 4

Typical Landscapes

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Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2022. The Soils Guide. Available: Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 14/08/2022

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