Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations

0571z HAMBLE 2

Soil and site characteristics
Deep stoneless well drained silty soils and similar soils affected by groundwater, over gravel locally. Usually flat land.

Aeolian silty drift
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals, potatoes, field vegetables and some short term grassland; local glasshouse and horticultural crops.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
5.71 HAMBLE 40% Siltic Luvisols
5.73 HOOK 35% Siltic Endogleyic Luvisols
Covers 466 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Freely draining slightly acid loamy soils

Alert ! - capping silts read the alert

0571z HAMBLE 2

Detailed Description

The deep, stoneless silty soils which comprise this association are found, mostly on low-lying land, in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. They are mapped in thick, mainly aeolian, silty drift, overlying river terrace or raised beach sands and gravels. This valuable land is intensively used both for agriculture and horticulture and there are many specialist crops, some grown under glass. The soil pattern is generally simple with fine silty stoneless Hamble and Hook soils, typical and gleyic argillic brown earths respectively, occupying three-quarters of the land in nearly equal proportions. Some Hamble soils have coarse silty topsoils. Ratsborough), Park Gate and Efford series are inextensive ancillary soils.

The association is most extensive on gently sloping river terraces along the Thames and Crouch between 4 and 18 m O.D. Here Hamble and Hook soils are mostly deep but there are some shallower soils which form polygonal patterns. Locally the subsoils are calcareous. Ratsborough soils are included near Shopland Hall, Southend. Elsewhere the association occurs between 30 and 100 m O.D. principally in the Ter, Can and Roding valleys and in the Lea and upper Colne valley near Hatfield. Here fine loamy over gravelly Efford soils and other shallow coarse loamy or silty soils over gravel are frequent, giving a complex soil pattern. Near Terling, the soils are developed over chalky till. In the Vale of St Albans, there are more Ratsborough and Hook soils than usual and locally, Hamble soils are a minor component.

The association is most extensive on the broad plain around Chichester and along Southampton Water between 4 and 18 m O.D. Here, Hamble and Hook soils are mainly deep but locally have calcareous subsoils. There are several smaller spreads in the valleys of the Kennet, the Thames near Slough, the Kent Stour, the Brede, the Sussex Ouse and the Test south of Romsey mostly between 18 and 50 m O.D. In the valleys the drift is partly Head and often rests on small river terraces. Here, too, fine loamy over gravelly Efford soils, and other shallow coarse loamy or silty soils over gravel, form a complex polygonal soil pattern. The association also occurs on the North Downs in east Kent, where patches of silty drift between 135 and 150 m O.D. cap clayey Plateau Drift or rest directly on the Chalk. Here, Batcombe, Carstens, Panholes, Coombe and Charity soils are associates.

Soil Water Regime

Hamble and Hook soils are permeable and well drained (Wetness Class I), although the latter may require pipe drainage in some places where the silty drift thins over seasonally waterlogged gravels. Some Hook soils over chalky till and local inclusions of Ratsborough soils have moderately permeable subsoils and are occasionally waterlogged (Wetness Class II). The soils readily absorb winter rains.

The soils have good reserves of water for crop production. On the Essex coast around Shoeburyness and inland as far as Writtle, Hamble and Hook soils are slightly droughty for cereal crops, oilseed rape and sugar beet and are moderately droughty and very droughty for potatoes and grass respectively. Irrigation is beneficial in most years. On high ground west of Hatfield, potential soil moisture deficits are smaller and cereal production is not limited by drought in average years. Soils are, however, slightly and moderately droughty for potatoes and grass respectively. Inclusions of Efford soils and other soils with gravel at moderate depth are more droughty than Hamble soils in all districts.

Cropping and Land Use

Hamble and Hook soils are easily cultivated with almost no restrictions to autumn cultivation periods in the dry coastal areas where return to field capacity falls at the end of December. Inland, around Hatfield, return to field capacity is about one month earlier but there are still long periods in autumn and spring when the soils can be safely cultivated. Where the land has been cultivated for many years and the soils contain little organic matter they cap readily.

A wide range of crops is grown, reflecting the versatility of the soils. Cereals predominate and are mostly autumn sown, with ley grassland where there are dairy herds. Without irrigation grassland yields are limited, but there is little risk of poaching so grassland is accessible at most times, except immediately after heavy rain. The soils are suitable for roots and other vegetables including early and main crop potatoes, sugar beet, vining peas and beans, bulb onions, brassicas and flower bulb crops. Although the land is suited to most kinds of top and soft fruit, the fruit acreage is not large, partly because of exposure near the coast. Nursery stock is often raised on sheltered sites, and glasshouse production of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuces, as well as more specialist flower crops, is concentrated locally in Essex and Hertfordshire. Restored soils are common on former brick works around Great Wakering and are cropped in similar fashion to the undisturbed soils.

0571z HAMBLE 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

South Eastern Region

Eastern Region

Typical Landscapes

Eastern Region

South 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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