All about soil by Keeping it Wild Trainee Zoe

All about soil by Keeping it Wild Trainee Zoe

Soil in hands 

Hello friendly reader, and welcome Zoe’s guided soil tour. Let’s take a dig in. Get it dig, as in soil.....
KiW Trainee Zoe

KiW Trainee Zoe

In this brilliant country, we have over 700 types of soil. Britain has a magnificent history of ranging climates and varied rock types. The sediments of these magnificent times created the vast soil range we have today! That’s not the only defining factor for the soil range, rainfall also has a strong hand in the deal. The annual rainfall for South East England is 250mm and over 2000mm in North West England. Vegetation, landscape and time can also sway the formation of the soil.

With so many types of soil, we just have to classify them. There are several levels of classification of British soils, however, there are only 10 main groups of soil, crazy right? So with much pleasure I present to you the 10 types of British soil:

Brown Earths 

One of the most common soils, for this temperate world climatic zone we find ourselves in. The top layer displays lovely brown colours and contains organic matter, that creates such a welcoming environment to many organisms. Below this is another brown layer that is the parent layer, rock or sediment. This is a very fertile, deep and drained soil, ideal for farming.

Gley Soils

The other popular soil of the land. It’s often identified by its mottled look, caused by periodic water logins and lack of oxygen, which changes the form of iron particles on the soil.

There are two types of Gley Soil: surface water Gley, a very clay-like texture with large pores holding precipitation causing that intense waterlogging. And groundwater gley, the very porous soil that differs because of high water tables, bringing the water to the surface in winter. This is the main soil in flood plains and rivers.


This is a whitish top layer of soil, ash in colour, that often occurs in cold northern regions. Brrrrrr! Typically acidic, this soil is sparse of nutrients, especially in its cold ashy upper layers. Deeper down is humus (the organic component of soil formed through decomposition), iron and aluminium, of which travelled from the top layers down by precipitation.

We have two main types of podzol here: humus iron podzol in more lowland heaths: The other is peach greyed podzol, which has an organic surface layer, up to 50 cm!

Organic soils

This particular soil is very special, as it is mainly made up of the remainder from all the other organisms that were living in it, above and around it. Wow!! The lowland Fen soils that fall in this category are the most sought after as they’re so rich and fertile that you could grow anything in there (well not really anything...but it is loved for agricultural uses).

Upland organic soils, that also fall into this category, aren't as loved for growing crops, they’re generally acidic so the only vegetation we see on this soils is heather, mosses and sedges. At least something loves good ol' upland organic soil!

The other types of soi in Britain are a lot smaller so here are some brief description. A whistle-stop tour if you like:

Salt Marsh and Dune Soils: Coastal soils characterised by vegetation such as algae. Ever-changing by wind and erosion, these soils have the label of immature soils

Shallow soils of steep slopes: A consistent gradual movement of materials means this is another type of soil that is ever-changing. The vegetation is often sparse such as low shrubs and grasses. This is where some of Britains most precious land exists, the chalk grasslands, in which we have a  magical range of wildlife, especially butterflies.

Polosol and man-made: Pelsol is a formation of clay sediments, that form a heavy clay soil with rather a good drainage. However, they often crack during the summer and are very coarse and blocky. Seeing as man has existed for such time, we have also had some influence on the soils, modifying it to our need or even by accident. With our disturbance, we have created modified soils which we classify separately.

Well to conclude Britains history is only as rich as its soil, and we have a lot of soil! Thank you for joining me upon the tour of our soils, and I hope the next time you see a patch of dirt you’ll be able to tell you’re friends a little more about it. Bye!