Soil Site Reporter

Soil Associations


Soil and site characteristics
Permeable fine and coarse loamy soils variably affected by groundwater, the drier soils being on slightly raised sites. Generally flat land.

River terrace and glaciofluvial drift
Cropping and Land Use
Cereals, sugar beet and potatoes; some grassland.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
8.31 WIGTON MOOR 40% Mollic Gleysols
8.31 QUORNDON 25% Eutric Gleysols
5.43 HOPSFORD 15% Eutric Endogleyic Cambisols
5.43 ARROW 10% Eutric Endogleyic Cambisols
Covers 264 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification
Loamy soils with naturally high groundwater

Alert ! - soils affected by groundwater read the alert


Detailed Description

The fine and coarse loamy soils which dominate this association are developed in glaciofluvial and river terrace deposits associated with major river valleys and are affected by fluctuating groundwater. The association is most extensive in the Midlands and Northern England but small areas are mapped in Wales and in Eastern and South West England. It covers 232 km² nationally, on broad expanses of low-lying flat land a few metres above the river floodplains. The main soils belong to the fine loamy Wigton Moor series, typical cambic gley soils, which are permeable and slightly stony with subsoil horizons affected by groundwater. The series now includes soils mapped formerly as the Grendon series by Whitfield and Beard (1980). The ancillary Quorndon series is coarse loamy but otherwise similar. The Arrow and Hopsford series, which are gleyic brown earths developed in coarse and fine loamy glaciofluvial and terrace drift respectively, occur locally. The association covers just under 100 km² mainly in east Staffordshire, with small areas in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, at altitudes between 40 and 170 m O.D. The largest occurrences are in the Trent valley between Lichfield and Burton upon Trent. Here gravels of the first or Floodplain terrace of the Trent (Posnansky 1960, Jones 1983) are overlain by recent alluvium near the river. Wigton Moor soils predominate and are associated with Quorndon soils. Small raised terrace features, such as those south of Alrewas, support Arrow and Hopsford soils, and locally there are Clifton soils where small pockets of reddish till overlie the terrace deposits. Stone content varies and in places there is gravel at relatively shallow depth giving Southminster soils (Sturdy 1976). Near Tamworth, on the low terraces of the Tame, Quorndon and Wigton Moor series are co-dominant and occasional sandy pockets in the river terrace drift give Blackwood soils. In central Staffordshire, composition is generally similar to that in the Trent valley, although on glaciofluvial deposits north and east of Penkridge the coarse loamy Quorndon series is predominant and associated with sandy Ollerton soils. Wigton Moor and Hopsford soils are absent here. In the Dove valley upstream from Uttoxeter, in the Blithe valley around Draycott in the Moors and the Soar valley near Loughborough, strips of alluvial soils bordering the rivers are included because they are too narrow to be delineated separately at the scale of mapping. These carry typical and pelo-alluvial gley soils belonging to Enborne, Blithe (Jones 1983) and Stixwould series. Quorndon soils are dominant south of Loughborough on low terraces of the Soar. West of Grantham on a narrow part of the Devon valley small strips of alluvial soils are included. North of Redditch, Wigton Moor soils predominate but terrace features are less common and so associate soils mainly belong to the Hopsford series with Trent and Enborne series adjacent to the rivers. The association covers only 7 km² in Lincolnshire as small patches west of Grantham, Market Rasen and Kirton in Lindsey.

In South West England, the soils are found mostly north-east of Exeter, where they occur on river terrace deposits and Head overlying red Permian mudstone along the Culm and some of its tributaries. The soils include those mapped by Clayden (1971) as the former Willand series and Kiddens series. Some of the latter are now correlated with Brockhurst series. Most topsoils are dark coloured and the soils are often stony containing very hard chert or quartzite fragments derived respectively from local Greensand and Triassic Pebble Beds. A small patch of Wigton Moor soils in the Vale of Porlock, west Somerset, is formed in red river terrace deposits containing sandstone fragments derived from nearby Devonian rocks.

The association occurs in Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Humberside. In Redesdale and along the rivers Coquet and North Tyne it occurs on land which is often irregular and hummocky. The soils are in stony and gravelly drift, mostly glaciofluvial, but sometimes, as in Redesdale, in a Head deposit mainly derived from sandstones. Quorndon soils are most common with Wigton Moor soils on valley sides. South-west of Northallerton, Wigton Moor, Quorndon and Hopsford soils are found in equal proportions. In the Vale of York, slightly stony soils, previously mapped as the Ryther series, are included. Glaciolacustrine clay occurs at a depth of 80 cm or more in some soils. Wigton Moor and Quorndon soils both occur frequently with occasional Blackwood soils. Less commonly, Portington and Sessay soils occur where the parent material is stoneless and of probable glaciolacustrine origin.

Soil Water Regime

The coarse and fine loamy gley soils of this association are permeable but seasonally waterlogged unless underdrained. In most areas after drainage the Wigton Moor series remains seasonally waterlogged (Wetness Class III) but becomes only occasionally waterlogged (Wetness Class II) in the drier districts. The Quorndon is more responsive (Wetness Class I or II), depending on suitable outfalls. Arrow and Hopsford soils are naturally waterlogged for short periods in winter (Wetness Class II); after drainage measures they are rarely wet (Wetness Class I).

Cropping and Land Use

In east Staffordshire and west Derbyshire, the soils are largely in arable rotation with cereals, potatoes and to a lesser extent sugar beet. The broad tracts of land flanking the Trent, Dove, Tame, Soar and Devon valleys favour this pattern of farming provided adequate drainage measures are installed. Suitably low outfalls are the main requirement for efficient drainage since the profiles are permeable throughout. Specialized crops such as onions are grown though these soils are not ideally suited. After drainage improvement there are many good machinery work days in spring and autumn, on Wigton Moor and Quorndon soils but there are no good days for landwork in spring during wet years. Overall Hopsford and Arrow series are the best for cultivation because of longer periods suitable for fieldwork. Compaction and slaking commonly occur under repeated cultivation and this is a particular problem on Quorndon and Wigton Moor series west of Alrewas. Subsoiling on a regular basis is necessary to prevent yields of arable crops diminishing. In districts where total annual rainfall exceeds 800 mm, the land is mainly in permanent pasture for stock rearing. For optimum use, drainage measures are needed to combat the surface wetness associated with high groundwater-tables. Poaching is a problem; for cattle the risk is significant on Wigton Moor and moderate on Quorndon soils although it is only slight or negligible on Hopsford and Arrow soils. The large proportion of long-term grassland in central Staffordshire is explained by the restricted opportunity for cultivations especially in wet years. In Wales the land is used for grass and cereal production. Dairying is the main enterprise with barley grown for stock feed on the farm. Underdrainage is needed to combat surface wetness and groundwater. There is a serious risk of poaching on the main soils though this is less of a problem on Arrow and Hopsford soils.

In Northumberland, the soils are mostly in permanent grassland as their use is limited by seasonally high groundwater levels and locally by stoniness and uneven relief. In North Yorkshire and Humberside, arable farming is widespread with barley, wheat, potatoes and sugar beet the main crops. Some land is retained as permanent pasture and some horticultural crops are grown around Selby. Compaction and slaking commonly occur under repeated cultivation. Subsoiling on a regular basis is necessary to prevent yields of arable crops diminishing.


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


Northern 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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