What is soil texture in agriculture


Soil texture is an important soil characteristic that drives crop production and field management. The textural class of a soil is determined by the percentage of sand, silt, and clay. Soils can be classified as one of four major textural classes: (1) sands; (2) silts; (3) loams; and (4) clays. In this fact sheet, we will discuss the importance of soil texture, different methods to determine soil texture, and the impact of texture on management decisions.

Soil texture (such as loam, sandy loam or clay) refers to the proportion of sand, silt and clay sized particles that make up the mineral fraction of the soil.Sep 24, 2013


How can we determine soil texture?

  • The sand, being the biggest and heaviest particles settles first. After a minute or two you will see the sand layer at the bottom of your jar. …
  • The silt layer settles next usually after one to two hours.
  • The clay layer can take a long time to fully sink. …
  • You will also likely have a layer of organic matter that floats on the top of the water. …

How to determine soil texture?

Soil Texture – Measuring in the Field

  • Key points. Soil texture is a measure of the relative proportion of the various soil particle size fractions in soil.
  • Background. Soil texture is an estimate of the relative amounts of sand, silt and clay particles in a soil. …
  • Measuring soil texture. …
  • Glossary Terms. …
  • Further reading and references. …

Which of these factors determines soil texture?

Soil texture. Soil is made up of different-sized particles. Soil texture refers to the size of the particles that make up the soil and depends on the proportion of sand, silt and clay-sized particles and organic matter in the soil. Sandy soils feel gritty when rubbed between your fingers. Silts feel smooth – a little like flour.

What does soil texture stand for?

Soils are composed of mineral (tiny pieces of rock) and organic (plant remains) components. Depending on your soil type this can be nearly all mineral e.g. very sandy soils, or nearly all organic material e.g. peat. Soil texture refers to the relative amounts of three mineral particle sizes: sand (the largest), silt and clay (the smallest).


What is soil texture according to agriculture?

Soil texture describes the size ranges of soil particles. It is estimated in the field by experienced soil scientists and can also be measured in the laboratory. Texture is assessed in the field as the “feel” of the soil as a ball (bolus) of moist soil is manipulated between thumb and forefinger.

What is soil texture and why is it important?

Soil texture refers to the size of the particles in your soil. According to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the importance of soil texture is its role in managing the nutrition your plants receive. Soil texture actually influences the retention of nutrients. Sandy soil feels grainy and has large particles.

What is soil texture and how it is classified?

Soil textures are classified by the fractions of each soil separate (sand, silt, and clay) present in a soil. Classifications are typically named for the primary constituent particle size or a combination of the most abundant particles sizes, e.g. “sandy clay” or “silty clay”.

What are the 3 textures of soil?

Soil texture is usually a complex size distribution represented by the relative proportions of the three particle-size fractions (Staff, 1987): sand, silt, and clay.

What is soil texture?

Soil texture (such as loam, sandy loam or clay) refers to the proportion of sand, silt and clay sized particles that make up the mineral fraction of the soil. For example, light soil refers to a soil high in sand relative to clay, while heavy soils are made up largely of clay.

Why is soil texture important in agriculture?

The texture of a soil is important because it determines soil characteristics that affect plant growth. Three of these characteristics are water-holding capacity, permeability, and soil workability. Water-holding capacity is the ability of a soil to retain water.

What are the types of soil texture?

Soil Texture The particles that make up soil are categorized into three groups by size – sand, silt, and clay.

What determines soil texture?

Soil texture is an important soil characteristic that influences stormwater infiltration rates. The textural class of a soil is determined by the percentage of sand, silt, and clay. Soils can be classified as one of four major textural classes: (1) sands; (2) silts; (3) loams; and (4) clays.

What are the four types of soil texture?

Soil is classified into four types:Sandy soil.Silt Soil.Clay Soil.Loamy Soil.

What is the best soil texture?

loamThe ideal soil texture is a mix of sand, silt, and clay particles, known as a loam. In most cases the particles will not be balanced, and the soil will need to be altered by adding organic amendments.

What is texture of clay soil?

Clay feels sticky when wet. It easily forms into a ball and a ribbon at least 5 cm long. Water drains very slowly through clay soil. Therefore, clay soil remains saturated after a heavy rain.

How can texture of soil be improved?

While changing a soil’s basic texture is very difficult, you can improve its structure–making clay more porous, sand more water retentive–by adding amendments. The best amendment for soil of any texture is organic matter, the decaying remains of plants and animals.

What is soil texture?

Soil texture is a summation of proportions of sand, silt and clay content. Soil texture is a very stable characteristic that influences soil biophysical properties. Soil texture is interrelated with the soil fertility and quality in the long term. The soil texture is associated with soil porosity, which in turn regulates the water holding capacity, …

Why is soil texture important?

Soil texture, defined by the composition of particle size, namely sand, silt, and clay, is an important land environmental variable because it plays a key role in soil degrada tion and water transport processes, controlling soil quality and its productivity (Hillel 1980; Blume et al., 2010 ). Knowledge of soil texture variability is crucial for …

What is the lowest silt content?

In TA TA15 (Aquic Haploxeralf) showed the lowest silt content with 4.4% : at the other extreme, Aquic Xerofluvents had a silt content of 55.7% that represented the TA02, TA03, TA04, and TA05 points. In TB the lowest value was observed in Typic Xerorthents, especially in the points TB16, TB17, and TB18 where it was 7.2%, and the highest value (40.8%) was observed in TB14 and TB15 which were Typic Xerorthents.

What is sand in a soil?

Sand defined as mineral soil particles that have diameters ranging from 2 to 0.02 mm. In TA the highest content of the sand was observed in TA19, with a proportion 84.0% and TA15 (79.5%) (both soils classified as Aquic Haploxeralfs). Lowest sand content was found in TA08 (typic fluvaquent: 4.0%). In TB the sand content ranged from 3.5% in TB06 (Halic Haploxererts) to 72.6% in the Typic Xerorthents that dominated the TB16, TB17, and TB18 sites.

How do soil aggregates affect biota?

These factors lead to different intraaggregate pore sizes, water retention, and other properties that affect the suitability of these environments for soil biota. Soil aggregates may cause different biogeochemical responses to soil warming by affecting the spatial distribution of soil microorganisms, C and nutrient (N and P) cycling , as well as water and oxygen fluxes by restricting their movements or interactions in soil ( Fang et al., 2016; Puissant et al., 2017; Zhang et al., 2013 ). For example, both soil microbial community composition and soil enzyme activity were found to be more sensitive to soil warming in macroaggregates than microaggregates, likely due to a greater physical protection of SOM in microaggregates than macroaggregates ( Fang et al., 2016 ).

Why do soil scientists use texture data?

Soil scientists use soil-texture information to make qualitative judgments about a number of physical properties, but, until recently, there have been limited attempts to use texture for quantitative assessments of soil properties. Because the division of particles into size classes is entirely arbitrary, it is not surprising that texture data do not generally relate directly to fundamental physical properties. For example, it is not easy to determine how much silt it takes to equal a unit of clay, or if silt and sand fractions have any effect on a particular soil property of interest. In addition, there are underlying issues of soil mineralogy, organic versus inorganic fraction, particle-shape factors, and aggregation that complicate matters, so that the use of particle size data often requires some degree of empiricism in relating to such things as water-retention characteristics or effective surface area.

How does temperature affect soil biota?

Thus a decrease in microbial biomass and associated products due to warming may also negatively affect soil structure. In a soil transplant experiment in China, microbial biomass decreased in soils that were transplanted to warmer regions, largely due to the decreased microbial richness of soil aggregates from cooler environments ( Liang et al., 2015 ). In addition to plant-mediated changes in soil structure, temperatures changes that lead to waterlogging (due to a reduction in snow cover and/or thaw) and salinity/alkalinity are also expected to detrimentally affect soil biota and soil structure under warmer conditions ( Karmakar et al., 2016; Scharpenseel et al., 1990 ).

What is soil texture?

Soil texture is about the mineral portion of your soil. When you hear that it takes a thousand years to make an inch of soil, what you are hearing about is how long it takes to create the mineral portion of your soil. So you might think that is would be great to have a silty loam soil – but you actually have sandy loam.

How to find the texture of soil?

It is calculated by measuring the proportions of sand, silt and clay particles in your soil.

What do plants take up?

Plants take up their nutrients from the soil in ionic form for the most part. If you look closely at the above chart you’ll see little + and – signs. The ones with + signs are cations. The ones with – signs are anions. Most of the essential ions are cations or ions with a positive charge.

What is the mineral part of soil?

The sand, silt and clay make up the mineral part of your soil. Ideally a soil has about 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air and 5% organic matter. Your soil texture has an enormous effect on water and on nutrients.

How does soil texture affect water?

Your soil texture has a huge effect on how water moves and is stored or not stored in the soil. There are three types of water dynamic at work here. Gravitational Water. When it rains or you water your garden water moves into the soil filling all the pore spaces.

Where do plants get their nutrients from?

The non mineral elements, Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen, plants get from the air and water. About 95% of the weight of the plant is made up from these three elements. Only about 5% by weight comes from the minerals in the soil. These are still essential to plant growth and health however.

Where does 90% of the soil’s function come from?

Soil experts at the cutting edge say that 90% or more of the function of the soil comes from biology.

What is soil texture?

The term soil texture refers to the size range of particles in the soil, that is, whether the particles of which a particular soil is composed are mainly large, small, or of some intermediate size or range of sizes.

How to determine soil texture?

Soil texture classification by sedimentation is carried out by adding a soil sample to a dispersing solution of sodium hexametaphosphate (NaPO 3) 6 in deionised water. The sedimentation tests are based on Stoke’s law, which predicts the free fall of any diameter spherical particle of known specific gravity in a fluid of known viscosity at low concentration. It is assumed that the soil particles have approximately the same specific gravity and that the rate of fall is dependent only on the particle size. The larger-diameter particles (sand) fall more quickly and settle at the bottom of the jar; then silt will settle out and finally a clay layer will form on top. Once settled ( Fig. 8.3 ), the relative percentages of sand, silt and clay may then be measured. This test is easily carried out on work site.

How does soil change O2?

In the topsoil, O2 abundantly occurs in general, thus not allowing denitrification to proceed. Generally, denitrification rates increase after rainfalls or irrigation and decrease again when the soil dries out. The chance for anoxic conditions is higher in soils with low porosity (clayey and loamy soil) than in soils with a coarse structure as in sandy soils [ 3 ]. The water-filled pore space, i.e. the percentage of the soil pores filled with water, is often used as an indicator for anoxic conditions. Supplementary knowledge about soil structure leads to the quantification of not aerated microsites in the soils. Denitrification rates in soils exponentially increase when water-filled pore space increases from about 90–100%.

What soil type is jute grown in?

Jute is grown in a wide range of soil types, mainly alluviums, laterite and calcareous with soil texture varying from sandy loam to clay loam. Basically, the soil should be well-drained, and its pH should preferably be in the range of 5.5–6.5. White jute is relatively more tolerant to waterlogging especially at later stages of crop growth. Conversely, Tossa jute does not tolerate waterlogging and is usually grown on higher lands. In general, both species are more sensitive to waterlogging during the early stage of crop growth.

What is the method of characterizing particle sizes in soil?

The traditional method of characterizing particle sizes in soils is to divide the array of possible particle sizes into three conveniently separable size ranges known as textural fractions or separates, namely, sand, silt, and clay. The actual procedure of separating out these fractions and of measuring their proportions is called mechanical analysis, for which standard techniques have been devised. The results of this analysis yield the mechanical composition of the soil, a term that is often used interchangeably with soil texture.

How does soil texture affect grapes?

Because important features such as aeration, water availability and nutrient availability are markedly influenced by soil texture, this property significantly affects grapevine growth and fruit maturation. For example, anecdotal reports suggest that phylloxera infestation is minimal in sandy soils, possibly by severely restricting insect movement in the soil. Nevertheless, there are comparatively few reports that have directly studied the effects of soil texture on vine growth ( Nagarajah, 1987 ).

Why is manure used in jute?

Organic manure is mainly used to provide nutrients to the jute crop. Usually 6–8 t/ha of farmyard manure are applied to the field during land preparation. Reports indicate that inorganic fertilizers are used by a very small percentage of farmers for jute cultivation, the main reason being that most jute farmers are poor and occupy smallholdings and thus cannot afford to incur the cost of fertilizers. Even when fertilizers are used they are applied in small doses.

What is soil texture?

Soil Texture. Soil texture refers to the size of the particles in your soil. Sandy soil feels grainy and has large particles. Loam has been compared to the texture of chocolate cake. It feels moist — not wet — and light and crumbly. Loam has particles of medium size.

How to improve soil texture?

Whether you have sandy or clay soil, the simplest method for improving soil texture is to dig in organic matter every year in the form of compost or manure. Dig 3 to 4 inches of compost or manure into a new garden area , followed by 1 to 2 inches annually thereafter.

What is the difference between clay and loam?

Clay, on the other hand, holds moisture and nutrients but often becomes so compacted that plants don’t receive oxygen. Soils stay cold and soggy for longer in the spring, and roots are more likely to rot. Loam — the Holy Grail of garden soils — drains well, while holding nutrients and moisture.

What is the smallest particle of soil?

Clay soils have the smallest particles. Clay feels sticky, dense and hard. Working it when it’s wet will yield a pile of cementlike earth rather than workable soil. If you’re wondering what type of soil lurks in your yard, pick up a ball of it. If it feels dry and falls apart, it’s likely sand.

How much water does a sandy soil hold?

Sandy soils can hold only about 2 inches of water, according to the Oregon State University Extension. Water sandy soils more frequently and for less time. These soils might also need more frequent fertilizer applications. Clay soils can hold up to 8 inches of water at a time, so you can water them more deeply and wait longer between applications of water. If you’re still confused about how much to water, remember this simple guideline:

Does sandy soil dry out quickly?

Most soil textures have potential benefits and drawbacks for plants. Sandy soils drain well and promote healthy root growth, but these soils dry out quickly. Nutrients also leach from them with lightning speed.

What is soil texture?

Definition of Soil Texture: Texture means size of the particles. Soil texture is the average size of the soil particle which depends on the relative proportion of sand, silt and clay in the soil. If the proportion of sand in the soil is increased, the average size or the soil particles increases and the resultant soil becomes coarser in texture.

What is a heavy soil called?

More power is required to plough a clayey land soil than a sandy land soil. So clayey soils are called heavy soils, and sandy soils are called light soils.

What is the classification of soil?

Textural classification of soil means classification of soils on the basis of their texture into different groups or classes called, clay, silty, clay sandy clay, clay loam, sandy clay loam, loam, silty loam, silt, sandy loam, loamy sand and sand as shown in the triangular textural diagram.

How much clay is in sandy loam?

Since sandy clay loam soil contains 20 to 35 per cent clay whereas loam soils contain 7 to 27 per cent clay as seen in Fig 4.1, the average size of the soil particles of sandy clay loam is less than that of the soil particles of loam. Hence sandy clay loam is of finer texture than loan, so the texture of the give soil is sandy clay loam.

What is the textural name of the compartment in which they intersect?

The textural name of the compartment in which they intersect is the textural name of the soil concerned. If they intersect just on the line between the two compartments, then the textural name of the finer compart­ment is to be taken.

What is a ball made of?

A ball can be made from moist clayey soil. The ball becomes firmer when the percentage of clay in the soil increases. Grittiness decreases and ball formation, stickiness and wire forma­tion increase as the soil texture becomes finer as shown in Table 4.1.

What happens to the soil when the proportion of clay is increased?

On the other hand if the proportion of clay in the soil is increased, the average size of the soil particles decreases and the resultant soil becomes finer in texture.

What is soil texture?

Soil texture is the composition of size of grains constituted of minerals. There are three types of grains i.e. sand (2-0.05 mm), silt (0.05-0.002) and clay (below 0.002) cont rols the soil texture.

Why is soil mapping important?

In this context, soil mapping is important to provide spatial information, which can be performed using remote sensing (RS) techniques. Modeling through use of satellite data is uncertain regarding the amplitude of replicability of the models. The aim of this study was to develop a quantification model for soil texture based on reflectance information from a continuum of bare soils, obtained by overlapping multi-temporal satellite images, and apply this model to an unknown region to evaluate its applicability. Spectral data were extracted from two Landsat TM 7 satellite images containing only bare soil, representing two distinct regions in Brazil (Area 1 and Area 2). The spectral data (obtained from six bands) and laboratory data (particle size from the 0.00-0.20 m layer) of Area 1 were modeled and extrapolated to Area 2. The bare soil images differentiated textural classes as sandy, sandy loam, clayey loam, clayey, and very clayey soil. The coefficients of determination between the determined and estimated values were higher than 0.5 and errors lower than 13 % for Area 1 and 30 % for Area 2, indicating applicability of the model to unknown areas.


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