Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations


Soil and site characteristics
Stoneless slowly permeable seasonally waterlogged coarse loamy soils and silty over clayey soils. Some deep coarse loamy soils affected by groundwater.

Aeolian drift and till
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals, peas and beans, potatoes and sugar beet some horticultural crops and fruit.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
7.11 GRESHAM 60% Eutric Albic Luvic Stagnosols
7.11 PROLLEYMOOR 20% Eutric Luvic Stagnosols
8.31 SUSTEAD 15% Eutric Gleysols
Covers 56 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Slowly permeable seasonally wet acid loamy and clayey soils

Alert ! - slowly permeable soils with seasonal wetness read the alert


Detailed Description

The Gresham association consists of deep coarse loamy and silty over clayey soils. It covers 48 km² mainly in north-east Norfolk and north of Lowestoft, in Suffolk, but there are 7 km² near St Albans in Hertfordshire. In Norfolk it is found chiefly around Statham, a low-lying area below 10 m O.D. The soils are in thin aeolian drift overlying till which forms the deep subsoil. The main soil is the Gresham series, which belongs to the typical stagnogley soils, and has grey mottled subsurface layers, and a large silt content in its upper horizons though it is coarse loamy overall. The soils are stoneless but pockets of flints occur at the junction with the underlying till, the Norwich Brickearth. The associated Sustead series, typical cambic gley soils, with brownish-grey mottled sandy silt loam subsurface layers, is found where the aeolian drift is thickest. Prolleymoor soils, typical stagnogley soils similar to the Gresham series, are fine silty over clayey and are very slightly stony. They are formed in decalcified chalky till and are mainly found in Hertfordshire.

Gresham soils tend to occur on upper slopes and crests and Sustead soils on footslopes. Narrow ridge crests in Norfolk occasionally carry less-mottled Wickmere soils. North of Lowestoft on flat ground there are some Prolleymoor and Hadleigh soils, the latter with chalky till subsoil beneath the silty upper layers. In all these soils it is common to find a thin discontinuous, sometimes stony, slightly coarser-textured layer at the junction of the aeolian drift and the till. Prolleymoor series is the main soil in Hertfordshire where the clay subsoil is commonly thin and rests on gravelly sand below a metre depth. Deep silty Hook soils also occur in this area.

Soil Water Regime

The soils are moderately permeable. Sustead, Prolleymoor and Hadleigh series are all seasonally waterlogged due to a high winter groundwater-table or slowly permeable subsurface layers. In Norfolk and Suffolk, Gresham soils on raised ground, although showing grey mottling typical of seasonal waterlogging, are now mostly well-drained (Wetness Class I). Hadleigh and Prolleymoor soils respond to tile drainage but are still likely to suffer from some waterlogging (Wetness Class II or III). The soils are mainly water-retentive. Gresham soils are slightly droughty for most arable crops, non-droughty for sugar beet and moderately droughty for grass. The more silty Sustead soils are less droughty overall, but the Prolleymoor and Hadleigh series are more so.

Cropping and Land Use

The soils are easy working and there is ample time for landwork in autumn. There are fewer days suitable for cultivations in spring and opportunities for landwork are limited in wet years especially on Hadleigh and Prolleymoor soils. These flexible highly productive soils are in intensive arable use, growing root crops and field vegetables as well as cereals. The small areas near St Albans are partly amenity woodland and used as an airfield, as well as being arable land.


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

Eastern Region

Typical Landscapes

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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