Community soil texture observations

This map presents crowdsourced soil observations from users of the UK Soil Observatory and the mySoil mobile app classified according to soil texture. This citizen science dataset focuses on the United Kingdom, though contains additional observations from across Europe and the rest of the world.

Traditionally, soil scientists use several field and laboratory-based techniques to identify soil texture including sieving, sedimentation and laser granulometry. There are international standards for describing soil textures in terms of their clay, silt and sand content. This community dataset is based on some simple tips that help identify soil in to six classes:

  • Chalky soil can be clayey or sandy, but is notable for the many fragments chalk or limestone that it contains. If testing for pH, chalky soils tend to be alkaline with moderately high pH (8+).
  • Sandy soil feels gritty to touch, It will not hold its shape when squeezed into a ball because it crumbles easily, so it is easy to dig and work. It drains very well and can dry out quickly.
  • Loamy soil is often the preferred soil type. It is made up of a roughly equally mixture of clay, silt and sand. Loamy soils hold together when squeezed into a ball. they do not feel sticky or gritty. They are easily dug, retain moisture and are nutrient rich.
  • Silty soil feels smooth to the touch, but not sticky and can be rolled or molded into a thin sausage-shape easily.
  • Clay soil feels smooth AND sticky to the touch. It can be molded into any shape and leaves smears of clay when rubbed between your fingers. Very heavy to dig and work, clayey soils can dry out in hot weather and form deep cracks.
  • Peaty soil contains a lot of organic matter and is very dark in colour. It feels spongy when squeezed but crunbles apart. It can absorb a lot of water but dry out quite quickly. If you have a pH testing kit it will have a low pH (i.e. Acidic).

It is hoped that these crowdsourced records can be used to validate and improve our own data holdings and lead to the creation of new community data products.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons
Community soil texture observations

Map legend

Key Crowdsourced Soil Texture
Chalky soil
Clay soil
Loamy soil
Peaty soil
Sandy soil
Silty soil
Not entered
Title Community soil texture observations
Source UK Soil Observatory and mySoil user community
Enquiries BGS Enquiries
Scale(s) Point data
Coverage Main focus is on UK, although European and worldwide data are available
Format GIS spatial point data
Price A free WMS service is available. A free smartphone app is also available.
Uses Local to national use with some European and worldwide data
Downloads None at this time (we are currently compiling the data to make it available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License)
Map viewer View in UKSO Map Viewer.
WMS link
Images High resolution | low resolution