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SOIL RESOURCES AND AGRICULTURAL USE & QUALITY OF LAND OFF SHELFORD ROAD, RADCLIFFE ON TRENT

Report 801/1a 12th November, 2012

SOIL RESOURCES AND AGRICULTURAL USE & QUALITY OF LAND OFF SHELFORD ROAD, RADCLIFFE ON TRENT

F.W Heaven BSc, MISoilSci

Report 801/1a Land Research Associates Ltd Lockington Hall, Lockington, Derby DE74 2RH

12th November, 2012

SUMMARY A study and survey of about 18 ha of agricultural land south of Shelford Road, Radcliffe on Trent in Nottinghamshire shows that the soils have clay subsoil covered by a variable thickness of loamy upper layers. This gives grade 2 land where there is more than 40 cm or medium or light loam and sub-grade 3a where clay is closer to the surface or where the topsoil is a heavy loam. This pattern is typical around Radcliffe on Trent, with grade 2 and subsidiary sub-grade 3a land dominant on the gentle slopes to the east and west of the village. Poorer quality land tends to be associated with the Trent floodplain, alongside minor streams, and on steeper slopes on Malkin Hill and to the south of the A52. The medium loam topsoils would provide a good quality resource for gardens and landscaping if the site is developed.

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Report 801/1a – Soils and agricultural quality of land at Shelford Road, Radcliffe on Trent

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1.0

Introduction

1.1

This report provides information on the soil resources and agricultural quality and use of an area of 18 ha of land lying to the south of Shelford Road, Radcliffe on Trent in Nottinghamshire. The report is based on a soil and agricultural desk study, and a survey of the land in October 2012. SITE ENVIRONMENT

1.2

The land investigated is disposed as four grass fields running south from Shelford Road to a narrow field next to the railway. The western edge is marked by a housing estate, and the eastern edge is marked by field boundaries. The land slopes gently from 50 m aOD on Shelford Road to less than 35 m aOD near the railway. AGRICULTURAL USE

1.3

The land is part of the now defunct Shelford Road Farm which had maintained the land in grass for several decades. At the time of the survey the fields were let to a grazier to feed cattle. There are no Environmental Stewardship agreements in force. PUBLISHED INFORMATION

1.4

The 1:50,000 BGS geological information shows that the area is underlain by the Edwalton and Gunthorpe Mudstones, with a cover of Quaternary Head in the north and south.

1.5

The National Soil Map1 shows the land in Dunnington Heath Association, comprising reddish coarse and fine loamy soils over reddish clay and mudstone.

1.6

Reconnaissance agricultural land classification (ALC) mapping carried out in the 1970s shows the agricultural land of the study area as grade 2. There are no more recent detailed published surveys of the site.

Thomasson, A J (et al) 1984. Soils and their Use in Midland and Western England Soil Survey of England and Wales Bulletin No. 12

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2.0

Soils

2.1

The Defra Soil Strategy2 points out that soils deliver a range of vital functions for human activities including food and fibre production support for ecosystems and habitats, and environmental services that play a vital role in the global carbon cycle, stabilising and degrading contaminants and providing clean water. One of the strategy’s objectives is to ensure that soil functions (soil ecosystem services) are fully valued in the planning process.

2.2

A detailed soil resource and agricultural quality survey was carried out in October 2012. It was based on observations at intersects of a 100 m grid, giving a sampling density of one observation per hectare. During the survey soils were examined by a combination of pits and augerings to a maximum depth of 1.2 m. A log of the sampling points and a map (Map 3) showing their location is in an appendix to this report.

2.3

The survey identified mainly reddish soils with variable thickness of loamy topsoil and subsoil over clay. The topsoil is most commonly medium clay loam or sandy clay loam, slightly stony, and 20-25 cm thick. It often overlies a reddish brown sandy clay loam or medium clay loam upper subsoil that has faint ochreous mottling, indicating some short term seasonal wetness. Slowly permeable reddish clay lower subsoils occur below these at a depth of more than 40 cm. These often contain thin grey bands of fine sandstones (skerries).

2.4

An example profile from SK 65563 40117 (Map 3) is described below.
0-24 cm Dark brown (10YR 3/3) medium clay loam to medium sandy silt loam with a few small subrounded quartzite stones; strongly developed medium subangular blocky structure; friable; 2% fine macropores; abundant very fine fibrous roots; clear smooth boundary to: Reddish brown (5YR 4/3) medium clay loam with common faint yellowish red (5YR 4/6) mottles; 2% small subrounded quartzite stones; moderately developed medium subangular blocky structure with brown (7.5YR 4/2) faces; friable; 2% fine macropores; many very fine fibrous roots; common charcoal fragments; clear smooth boundary to: Yellowish red (5YR 5/6) and dark reddish grey (5YR 4/2) clay, passing down wards through weak red (2.5YR 5/2) with strong brown (7.5YR 6/8) mottles to grey (5Y 6/1); a few very small subangular skerry fragments locally; weakly developed coarse prismatic structure becoming structureless, massive at depth; firm to very firm; 0.1% fine macropores; common very fine fibrous roots, reducing with depth.

24-46 cm

46-100+cm

2.5

In some parts of the site the upper loamy subsoil is absent and the topsoil is

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Safeguarding our Soils: a Strategy for England (Defra, 2009)

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directly over reddish clay. In some cases the topsoil is heavy clay loam. 2.6 Most of the soils are slowly permeable, with water ponding over the clay subsoils. Where there is a good thickness of loamy upper subsoil present then the soils are only seasonally wet for short periods (wetness class II), can support a wide range of food and fibre production and have a good capacity to absorb excess winter rainfall. 2.7 Where clay layers are close to the surface wetness is of longer duration (wetness class III), and the soils are more limited in the range of food and fibre production they can support, and have a poorer capacity to absorb excess winter rainfall. They provide moist, neutral habitats for plant communities. 2.8 The distribution of the soil types is shown in Map 1.

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3.0

Agricultural Quality

3.1

To assist in assessing land quality, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) developed a method for classifying agricultural land by grade according to the extent to which physical or chemical characteristics impose long-term limitations on agricultural use for food production. The MAFF Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) system classifies land into five grades numbered 1 to 5, with grade 3 divided into two sub-grades (3a and 3b). The system was devised and introduced in the 1960s and revised in 1988.

3.2

The agricultural climate is an important factor in assessing the agricultural quality of land and has been calculated using the Climatological Data for Agricultural Land Classification3. The relevant site data for an average elevation of 42 m is given below. • Average annual rainfall: • January-June accumulated temperature >0°C • Field capacity period (when the soils are fully replete with water) • Summer moisture deficits for: 600 mm 1403 day° 123 days late Nov –early April wheat: 113 mm potatoes: 107 mm

3.3

The survey described in the previous section was used in conjunction with the agroclimatic data above to classify the site using the revised guidelines for agricultural land classification issued in 1988 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food4. SURVEY RESULTS

3.4

The agricultural quality of most of the survey area is determined mainly by the degree of soil wetness over slowly permeable subsoils. Land of grades 2 and 3 agricultural quality exists on the site. Grade 2

3.5

There are 12 hectares of grade 2 land mainly on soils similar to those described in paragraph 2.4, where there is a loamy topsoil and subsoil over clay. The principal constraint to production is slight seasonal wetness caused by water

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Climatological Data for Agricultural Land Classification. Meteorological Office, 1989 Agricultural Land Classification for England and Wales: Guidelines and Criteria for Grading the Quality of Agricultural Land. MAFF, 1988.
Report 801/1a – Soils and agricultural quality of land at Shelford Road, Radcliffe on Trent

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ponding over slowly permeable subsoils (wetness class II). Included are small areas where the loam is very deep, and the land qualifies for grade 1. Sub-grade 3a 3.6 There are 5.9 ha of this sub-grade where the medium loam topsoil is directly over reddish clay or heavy clay loam subsoil. The principal agricultural limitation is some seasonal wetness caused by water ponding over slowly permeable subsoils (wetness class III). Locally, a few soils have heavy clay loam topsoil, and the land here would be of sub-grade 3b quality. Other land 3.7 The farm buildings, yards and access tracks account for about 0.5 ha of the application area. Grade areas 3.8 The boundaries between the different grades of land are shown on Map 2 and the areas occupied by each are shown below. Table 1. Areas occupied by the different land grades
Grade/subgrade Grade 2 Sub-grade 3a Other land Total % of agricultural land 67 33

Area (ha) 12.1 5.9 0.5 18.5

% of the site 65 32 3 100

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4.0

Soil resources and their use

4.1

An objective of the Defra Soil Strategy is to ensure that the construction industry and planning authorities take sufficient account of the need to protect soil resources, and ensure soils are able to fulfil as many as possible of their functions. An Environment Agency strategy Soil a Precious Resource: Our strategy for protecting, managing and restoring soil (Environment Agency, 2007) has complementary aims. The soil across the site has been described in section 2 and shown on Map 1. Topsoil

4.2

The medium clay loam or sandy clay loam topsoil most common on the site has developed good structure because of long periods under grass, and is a good resource to be retained for use in gardens and landscaping. Subsoil

4.3

The grade 2 land has a medium loam subsoil of sandy clay loam or medium clay loam texture which is a good basis for gardens and landscape areas. It is prone to damage when exposed during soil stripping, and excess trafficking on it should be avoided where possible subsoil would need to be loosened in dry conditions before topsoil is spread.

4.4

The sub-grade 3a land has heavy subsoils easily damaged and made intractable by trafficking during stripping and construction. It should be loosened in dry conditions before topsoil is spread. Soil Handling

4.5

Areas not being built over (e.g. environmental buffers and landscape areas) should not be trafficked by construction vehicles as this will render the soils impermeable, preventing percolation of rainfall beyond the base of the topsoil, which will quickly become saturated.

4.6

Stripped topsoil should be stored in separate resource bunds no more than 3 m high, and kept grassed and free from construction traffic until required for re-use. The Construction Code of Practice for Sustainable Use of Soils on Construction Sites (Defra 2009) provides guidance on good practice in soil handling.

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5.0

Conclusions

5.1

The survey shows that the soils have clay subsoil covered by variable thicknesses of loamy upper layers. This gives grade 2 land where there is more than 40 cm or medium or light loam and sub-grade 3a where clay is closer to the surface or where the topsoil is a heavy loam.

5.2

This pattern is typical around Radcliffe on Trent, with grade 2 and subsidiary sub-grade 3a land dominant on the gentle slopes to the east and west of the village. Poorer quality land tends to be associated with the Trent floodplain, alongside minor streams, and on steeper slopes on Malkin Hill and to the south of the A52.

5.4

The medium loam topsoils would provide a good quality resource for gardens and landscaping if the site is developed.

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APPENDIX MAPS AND DETAILS OF OBSERVATIONS

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Shelford Road, Radcliffe on Trent: ALC and soil resources survey October 2012 - Details of observations at each sampling point
Obs No 1 2 3 Topsoil Depth (cm) 0-20 0-28 0-30 Texture MCL MSZL MCL Stones (%) 1 0 1 Upper subsoil Depth Texture (cm) 20-35 rC 28-60 30-55 MSZL MCL Mottling x o o Lower subsoil Depth Texture (cm) 35-65 rC 65-110 r C+mdst 60-75 MCL 75-110 rC 55-70 MCL 70-90 HCL 90-110 rC 60-110 gr C 40-110 gr C 50-80 HCL 80-110 rC 45-110 r C+mdst 45-90 90+ 55-110 100-120 70+ 50-110 40-70 40+ 60-110 50-10 50+ 50-90 90-110 35-70 70+ 55-110 Mottling xx xx xx xx(x) xxx xxx xx xxx xx Slope (°) <1 <1 1 Wetness Class III II II Agricultural quality Grade Main limitation 3a 1 2 W W

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

0-20 0-25 0-25 0-25 0-26 0-30 0-28 0-26 0-27 0-25 0-30 0-22 0-25 0-18 0-27 0-30

MCL HCL MCL-SCL HCL MCL HCL HCL MCL-SCL SCL MSZL MCL MSL SCL MCL SCL SCL-MSL

1 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 <1 <1 1 1 1 2 <1

20-60 25-40 25-50 25-45 26-110 30-45 28-110 26-55 27-70 25-50 30-40 22-60 25-50 18-50 27-35 30-55

MCL HCL MCL rC r C + mdst HCL rC SCL SCL HCL MCL MSL SCL SCL SCL MCL-SCL

x xx(x) o-x x x o xx(x) x x xx x x o-x o-x o xx

0 0 0 <1 <1 1 <1 1 1 1 1 1 1 <1 <1 <1

II III II II III II III II I/II II III II II II II II

2 3b 2 3a 3a 3a 3b 2 2/3a 2 3a 2 2 2 2 2

W W W W W W W W W,D W W D W W W W

r C+mdst xx stopped on skerry band r HCL xx rC x stopped on hard layer rC x rC xx stopped on skerry band SCL x rC xx stopped on skerry band HCL xx gr HCL xxx st rb HCL xx stopped on skerry band SCL xx

Key to table
Mottle intensity: o unmottled x few to common rusty root mottles (topsoils) or a few ochreous mottles (subsoils) xx common to many ochreous mottles and/or dull structure faces xxx common to many greyish or pale mottles (gleyed horizon) xxxx dominantly grey, often with some ochreous mottles (gleyed horizon) Texture: C - clay ZC - silty clay SC - sandy clay CL - clay loam (H-heavy, M-medium) ZCL - silty clay loam (H-heavy, M-medium) SCL - sandy clay loam SZL - sandy silt loam (F-fine, M-medium,C-coarse) SL - sandy loam (F-fine, M-medium, C-coarse) LS - loamy sand (F-fine, M-medium, C-coarse) S - sand (F-fine, M-medium, C-coarse) P - peat (H-humified, SF-semi-fibrous, F-fibrous) LP - loamy peat; PL - peaty loam Limitations: W - wetness/workability D - droughtiness De - depth St – stoniness Sl – slope F - flooding T – topography/microrelief Texture suffixes & prefixes: ca – calcareous: x-extremely, v-very, sl-slightly (ca) – marginally calcareous st – stony;, v st – very stony gr – greyish, br – brownish, r - reddish

a depth underlined (e.g. 50) indicates the top of a slowly permeable layer