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Soil Texture

Soil Particles and Texture

Soils are generally a mixture of Sand / Silt and Clay
Soils are generally a mixture of Sand / Silt and Clay
Texture refers to the overall feel of the soil, which reflects the proportion of sand, silt and clay particles, and often the amount of organic matter mixed with them.

Sandy soils feel gritty, silty soils are smooth whilst clays tend to be sticky and plastic.

Particles less than 2mm are separated into three main groups:

  • Sand between 2 and 0.06mm
  • Silt between 0.06 and 0.002mm
  • Clay less than 0.002mm

Soil Texture and Soil Characteristics

Estimating soil texture is important to provide information on:

  • Soil water - its retention & release to plants
  • Soil structure - development and stability
  • Soil nutrients - retention and availability
  • Ease of cultivation/soil stickiness
  • Soil drainage/permeability
  • Soil temperature changes
  • Cropping suitability
  • Topsoil cultivation, timing of work
  • Topsoil erodibility

Learning & Resources


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.