The type of soil you have to work with can dictate what you can grow. The UK Soil Observatory can tell you the soil type in your area, among many other things, but what can you do to optimise your soil? And how can Farm Tech Supplies help you to achieve your results?
Just the Type
The RHS lists six different soil types based on the characteristics of their particles and properties:
Clay – Fertile, Poor Drainage, Easily Compacted
Has the smallest particles. It has the potential to hold a lot of minerals, so can be very fertile, but it also holds a lot of water because it has poor drainage. When it rains, clay soils become waterlogged and compact easily when trodden on. Though it takes a long time to warm up, clay soil bakes hard in the summer.
Sandy – Not so Fertile, Good Drainage, Easily Worked
Soil drains well and warms quickly, but this means it dries out quickly and nutrients are easily washed away. It is often very acidic. Sandy soil is easy to work but a challenge to keep the plants watered and fed.
Silt – Fertile, Decent Drainage, Easily Compacted
Soil is similar to clay soil, but has slightly larger particles. This means it is fertile, drains better than clay but holds more moisture than sandy soils. Unfortunately, it is easily compacted.
Loam – Fertile, Good Drainage, Easily Worked
These soils are considered the best of the best for gardeners. As they are a mix of silt, sand and clay, loams are easily worked, well-drained and fertile. Depending on the dominant component in the soil they can be clay-loam or sandy-loam.
Peat – Fertile, Moist, Rare
Soil is rare in most of the UK, but is very desirable thanks to its fertility. It mainly comprises of organic matter and holds a lot of moisture.
Chalky – Very alkaline, Stony, Easily Compacted
A.k.a lime-rich soils can be light or heavy, but as the name suggests, it is largely made up of chalk and is very alkaline.
Working the Land
These soil types all require different treatment to get the best results. However, it is strongly advised to regularly add organic matter to all soil types to maintain fertility levels. It also helps to break up clay or silt soils, while helping to bind the particles in sandy soil. The clippings from a Winton Flail Mower, or chips from a Winton Wood Chipper is ideal for this organic matter. William Hackett Harrows can be used to work it into the soil and spread it evenly. Fertiliser can also be added efficiently to the soil with the Fleming PTO Spreader.
Heavy soils, such as clay, silt and some chalk soils become easily compacted and waterlogged. This means that they should be frequently turned over and aerated. Farm Tech Supplies have several machines to help with this, such as the Winton or FTS Rotovator, Fleming Aerator and Winton Power Harrow. Stones in the soil can also be problematic, but these can be buried under a good layer of top soil by the Winton Stone Burier.
While some soil types are more difficult to work than others, there are ways to make it easier to manage. Farm Tech Supplies has plenty of machines which can help.