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Soil texture chart

Use this table to get a general idea of which texture class your sample might belong in.
Very short or no ribbon Short ribbon (15 25mm) Medium ribbon (25 – 50 mm) Long ribbon (50 mm plus)
Gritty texture (sand)

Sand

Loamy sand

Sandy loam

Sandy clay loam

Sandy clay

Equally smooth and gritty

 

Loam

Clay loam

Clay

Clay loam

Smooth texture (silt)

 

Silty loam

Silty clay loam

Silty clay

Now look at these more detailed descriptions of the texture classes to check that you have selected the right class for your sample.
Texture Class Behaviour of soil sample

Sand

The sample does not stick together in a ball at all.

The sample has a loose gritty feel. Single grains of sand stick to your fingers, but do not stain.

Loamy sand

The sample can just be carefully pressed into a ball.

If you try to form a ribbon it can only form a very short (6 mm) ribbon that then breaks easily.

The sample has a gritty feel. Handling it discolours your fingers.

Sandy loam

The sample can just be pressed into a ball.

A ribbon 15–25 mm long can be formed.

Individual sand grains can be seen, heard and felt. Hear the grains by rubbing between your fingers close to your ear.

When the sample dries it can form a lump, but this is easily broken up.

Loam

The sample can be formed into a soft spongy ball.

A ribbon about 25 mm long can be formed.

No significant gritty (sand) or silky (silt) feel. If organic matter is present it might feel greasy.

Silty loam

The sample can be formed into a crumbly ball.

A ribbon about 25 mm long can be formed.

Has a smooth and silky feel.

The sample can form a hard lump when dry, but is easily broken up.

Sandy clay loam

The sample can be formed into a ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 25–38 mm long can be formed.

Sand grains can be felt, seen and heard.

Clay loam

The sample is easy to mould and can be formed into a spongy ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 40–80 mm long can be formed.

Silty clay loam

The sample is silky smooth and easy to mould and can be formed into a spongy ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 40–80 mm long can be formed.

Sandy clay

The sample is easy to mould and can be formed into a ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 50–75 mm long can be formed.

Sand grains can be seen, felt and heard.

Clay

The sample is easy to mould and can be formed into a ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 50 mm long or more can be formed, with some resistance to being pushed between the thumb and forefinger.

Silty clay

The sample is very smooth and easy to mould and can be formed into a ball that sticks together well.

A ribbon 50–75 mm long can be formed.

No gritty feeling.

 

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