All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2017

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2017. The Soils Guide. Available: www.landis.org.uk. Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 19/10/2017

0712c WINDSOR

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Soil and site characteristics

Slowly permeable seasonally waterlogged clayey soils mostly with brown subsoils. Some fine loamy over clayey and fine silty over clayey soils and, locally on slopes, clayey soils with only slight seasonal waterlogging.

Geology

Tertiary clay

Cropping and Land Use

Dairying with some cereals; winter cereals and short term grassland in Essex some deciduous and coniferous woodland.

Component soil series

Subgroup Series name Percentage WRB 2006 link
7.12 WINDSOR 45% Eutric Vertic Stagnosols
7.11 WICKHAM 25% Eutric Luvic Planosols
7.12 LAWFORD 10% Clayic Ruptic Eutric Stagnosols
7.12 DENCHWORTH 10% Eutric Vertic Stagnosols
4.21 ALTHORNE 10% Stagnic Vertic Cambisols

Covers 1416 km2 in England and Wales

Soilscapes Classification

18
Slowly permeable seasonally wet slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils

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Detailed Description

These slowly permeable clayey soils occur in Eocene clays and associated thin drifts in south Essex and Hertfordshire, and in north Surrey, Kent, Berkshire and south Hampshire. The Windsor series, pelo-stagnogley soils, is the most extensive. These soils have grey and ochreous mottled clayey subsurface horizons that become increasingly brown with depth. They are stoneless and usually well structured. The Denchworth series, pelo-stagnogley soils, is similar to Windsor series but is greyish to depth and are found mainly on Reading or Claygate Beds. On footslopes, where fine loamy or fine silty drift covers the clays, Wickham series, typical stagnogley soils, occurs. In similar situations, where the drift is clayey and thick, Lawford series, pelo-stagnogley soils, is found. Althorne series, typical non-calcareous pelosols, is present on slopes, usually between 5 and 12° and has brownish colours throughout with only slight mottling. In places they contain nodules of secondary calcium carbonate at depth.

In south and east Essex and in Hertfordshire the association occurs both on undulating terrain and in wide valleys. Windsor soils with some Lawford soils occupy about half of the land. Wickham soils occur on crests as well as on footslopes and valley floors and Hallsworth soils are found locally in flinty clayey drift. Althorne soils occur most on steep slopes facing the Crouch and Thames estuaries in south and east Essex. Small scale slumping during wet weather is a feature of these steeper slopes, for example, in parts of Epping Forest and on Hadleigh Down. Small patches of Ratsborough series, in flinty fine silty over clayey drift, occur particularly around Wickford. On remnants of river terrace gravels on hilltops there are small areas of Essendon series , and here the other component soils have stony topsoils. Denchworth series is restricted to the clayey facies of the Claygate beds.

In south Hampshire, Windsor soils occupy much of the land in a belt from Chandler's Ford to Waterlooville, but Denchworth soils are more extensive than elsewhere, both on the Reading Beds and locally on the London Clay which is here greyer than in other parts of the region. Althorne soils are rare but the presence of thin loamy drift gives rise to local patches of Wickham and Kings Newton soils.


Soil Water Regime

Undrained Windsor, Lawford, Denchworth and Wickham soils remain waterlogged for long periods in winter (Wetness Class IV) and they need effective underdrainage to achieve good yields of grass and cereals. Appropriate drainage measures reduce the period of waterlogging (Wetness Class III). Surface cracks develop in dry periods and some autumn rain is absorbed, but swelling of subsoil clay and the closure of fissures leads to waterlogging and rapid winter run-off. Surface wetness and standing water in furrows are common and the land is inaccessible to machinery or stock in winter. Althorne soils are occasionally waterlogged when drained (Wetness Class II) but their close association with other wetter soils makes this of limited usefulness. Inland areas are slightly droughty and coastal districts moderately droughty for cereals but very droughty for grass.

Cropping and Land Use

The moisture retentive clayey topsoils of Windsor, Lawford and Denchworth soils become sticky and plastic when wet so are easily damaged and compacted during cultivation and grazing. Cultivations need to be carefully timed and ideally should be restricted to autumn before the soil is too wet. On many farms, ploughing has been superseded by multiple tine or disc cultivation. With well planned management including occasional topsoil loosening, yields of direct drilled winter cereals are similar to those obtained with conventional cultivations but there is some increase in grass weeds. Cereals are grown continuously on some arms, but a rotation in which three years of winter wheat is followed by one year of barley and one of winter oilseed rape is common. Some peas are grown for dry harvesting but the soils are not suited to root crops. Grassland is mainly permanent or as long leys but production is restricted by summer drought and the total area has fallen with the reduction in the number of dairy herds. The topsoils poach easily in winter and grazing is confined to late spring, summer and early autumn. Natural soil reserves of potassium are generally large and magnesium levels are satisfactory. Phosphorus levels are naturally low and deficiency occurs occasionally, particularly on grassland. Surface soil horizons are naturally acid and regular liming improves fertility and helps maintain topsoil structure.

Much land is under permanent grass or long leys, especially on small farms and the quality is often indifferent. Arable land is extensive on the Isle of Sheppey where there has been substantial investment in land drainage. Winter wheat predominates with some spring barley. Peas, winter oilseed rape or short leys form the main break crops. Near Whitstable, grass predominates mainly with beef cattle or sheep. Some cereals are grown where adequate underdrainage has been installed. In south Hampshire, much of the grassland is poor but large farms able to invest in drainage and machinery grow cereals in rotation with grass leys.

Impeded drainage in the principal soils restricts the choice of suitable tree species for commercial forestry to those tolerant of prolonged winter waterlogging. Surface wetness makes establishment difficult and may cause shallow rooting and poor growth and lead to windthrow in exposed places. Corsican pine is best suited to these conditions. Scots pine and the shallower rooting Norway spruce and western hemlock grow slowly. Of the hardwoods, oak grows moderately well. Phosphorus application assists root growth.

There are large tracts of coppiced woodland in north Kent of which Blean, Ellendon, Chattendon and East Blean Woods are good examples. Coppiced species include sessile oak, sweet chestnut, beech, hazel and hornbeam. The presence in these woods of rowan, holly, hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), wild service tree (Sorbus torminalis) and alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) confirm their long woodland history. Greater woodrush (Luzula sylvatica), common cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense) and wavy hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) in the ground flora are evidence of the wet acid soil conditions. Ling (Calluna vulgaris) and purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) occur locally. Ash and field maple standards with bluebell (Hyancinthoides non-scripta) and dog's mercury (Mercurialis perennis) indicate more base-rich soils in Chattendon Wood. Remnants of beech woodland with bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) are found on Ashley Hill. Wet sites near springs have alder with lesser skull-cap (Scutellaria minor) and bog moss (Sphagnum spp) often with prolific dog's mercury, wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) and many other herbs. Open oak woodland with bracken and associated tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) grassland occurs on Epsom and Ashtead Commons in Surrey.

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Typical Landscapes

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All information Copyright, Cranfield University © 2017

Citation: To use information from this web resource in your work, please cite this as follows:
Cranfield University 2017. The Soils Guide. Available: www.landis.org.uk. Cranfield University, UK. Last accessed 19/10/2017