Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0571x Ludford

Soil and site characteristics
Deep well drained fine loamy, coarse loamy and sandy soils locally flinty and in places over gravel. Slight risk of water erosion

Glaciofluvial drift
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals, sugar beet and other arable crops; some fruit and horticultural crops.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.71 LUDFORD 20% Haplic Luvisols
5.41 HALL 15% Eutric Endoskeletic Cambisols
5.71 MAPLESTEAD 10% Haplic Luvisols
5.81 TERLING 10% Ruptic Eutric Chromic Luvisols
5.81 MAXTED 10% Ruptic Chromic Luvisols
5.51 NEWPORT 10% Eutric Lamellic Arenosols
Covers 600 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils

Alert ! - sandy soils read the alert

0571x Ludford

Detailed Description

This association occupies 562 kmĀ² in Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, mainly in the valleys of the Gipping, Stour, Colne, Chelmer and Lea. It occurs mainly on gently to strongly sloping ground in these south-east draining valleys which dissect the extensive plateaux capped by clayey chalky till or Plateau Drift. South-west of Ipswich and between Ware and Welwyn, the association occurs on level ground around the plateau margins. The valleys cut through glaciofluvial and river terrace deposits to the Chalk or London Clay, though the soils are mostly formed in thin Head masking these deposits. The well drained, non-calcareous Ludford and Maplestead series, both argillic brown earths, are the main soils and are developed in fine and coarse loamy Head. On convex upper slopes similar but paleo-argillic brown earths of the Terling and Maxted series, with reddish clay-enriched subsoils, occur. On middle and lower slopes there are commonly deep sandy Newport soils, typical brown sands, or Ebstree soils, argillic brown sands, both of which range from almost stoneless to very stony. Hall series, typical brown earths, has sandy loam or sandy silt loam upper horizons over a sandy gravelly subsoil. The upper horizons of many component soils include additions of aeolian silty material. Locally, silty aeolian drift has accumulated in minor valleys to give stoneless sandy silt loam or silt loam soils, belonging mainly to the Sheringham series. Along lower slopes the underlying impermeable London Clay gives rise to Windsor, or Wickham series where thin loamy Head deposits cover the clay.

In the narrowest valleys draining the till plateau Ludford soils are dominant. Around the high ground between Ipswich and Colchester, and between Ware and Welwyn, Maplestead series is the main soil. Sandy soils of the Newport and Ebstree series occur widely and are locally dominant. The very flinty St Albans series occurs around Panshanger, south of Sudbury and north of Halstead. Stoneless coarse loamy and silty soils, Sheringham and some Hamble series occur mainly between Ipswich and Colchester and less commonly between Hertford and Hatfield, where the soils contain a larger proportion of windblown silt than elsewhere. Windsor, Wickham and various gleyic brown earths, groundwater gley soils and peat soils occur around spring and flushed sites and on some narrow valley floors in the lower reaches of the Chelmer, Ter, Brain, Blackwater, Colne and Stour. They include soils recognized in detailed mapping of the Little Waltham area (Allen and Sturdy 1980) as Wigton Moor , Rockland, Chelmer, Bentley and Notley series. The complex and local distribution of soils in this association reflects the variability of the soil parent materials and widespread occurrence of cryoturbation, solifluction and frost cracking. Where this soil variation affects the water holding capacity of the soils it shows locally as variable growth in crops in dry years-such patterns are best seen from the air.

Soil Water Regime

The main soils are permeable and well drained (Wetness Class I) and readily accept winter rain, although there is some run-off on the steeper slopes. The soils have moderate or low reserves of available water so the yield of most crops is reduced by droughtiness. As potential soil moisture deficits increase eastwards so does droughtiness. In an average year cereals and sugar beet suffer slightly from droughtiness but for shallow rooting crops such as potatoes the soils are moderately droughty in the west, very droughty in the east. The very stony soils are especially droughty.

Cropping and Land Use

The soils return to field capacity late in the year so they can be cultivated well into winter and landwork can start early in spring in all but the wettest years. There is some risk of rill and gully erosion on arable fields on most component soils. The association is largely under arable cropping, chiefly cereals with some sugar beet, oilseed rape, potatoes and, in south Suffolk, orchards. The yields of direct drilled winter cereals are similar to those produced by conventional cultivation, but there is unlikely to be any advantage for spring-sown crops. In places the ground is strongly or moderately steeply sloping and is difficult to work so it is grassland or woodland. Sand and gravel extraction is extensive between Ware and Welwyn in Hertfordshire.

0571x Ludford

Distribution Map

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

Typical Landscapes

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 15/07/2024

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