Soil texture refers to the relative percentage of sand, silt
and clay in a soil.
The proportion of each size in a given soil (the texture)
cannot be easily altered and it is considered as a basic
property of a soil.
The soil separates are defined in terms of diameter in
millimeters of the particles.
Soil particles less than 2 mm is called fine earth and are
excluded from soil textural determinations.
Soil Textural Classes
Sand: It includes all soils in which the sand separates make
up at least 70% of the material by weight.
Silt: It includes soils with at least 80% silt and 12% or less
clay. Particle size intermediate between sand and clay.
Clay: It includes soils with at least 35-40% clay separate.
Methods of Textural determination
1. Feel Method : Texture is commonly determined by the
sense of feel.
• Sand feels gritty and its particles can be easily seen
• Silt(when dry) feels like flour/ talcum powder ; and is
slightly plastic when wet
• Clay feels very plastic and is very sticky when wet and hard
under dry conditions
2. Laboratory method :
i) Elutriation method – Water & Air
ii) Pipette method
iii) Decantation/ beaker method
iv) Test tube shaking method
Influence of Soil Texture Separates on Some Properties of Soils
Property/behavior Sand Silt Clay
Water-holding capacity Low Medium to high High
Aeration Good Medium Poor
Drainage rate High Slow to medium Very slow
Soil organic matter level Low Medium to high High to medium
Decomposition of organic
Rapid Medium Slow
Warm-up in spring Rapid Moderate Slow
Compactability Low Medium High
Shrink/Swell Potential Very Low Low
Moderate to very
Ability to store plant
Poor Medium to High High
The arrangement of primary particles (sand, silt, clay) and
their aggregates into a certain definite pattern is called soil
Influence of soil structure on soil physical properties:
I. TYPES OF SOIL STRUCTURE
1. Platy: Peds are flattened one atop the other; 1–
10 mm thick. Found in the A-horizon of forest soils
and lake sedimentation.
2. Prismatic and Columnar: Prismlike peds are long in
the vertical dimension; 10–100 mm wide. Prismatic
peds have flat tops, columnar peds have rounded
tops. Tend to form in the B-horizon in high sodium soil
where clay has accumulated.
PLATY SOIL COLUMNAR SOIL
3. Angular and subangular: Blocky peds are imperfect
cubes, 5–50 mm, angular have sharp edges,
subangular have rounded edges. Tend to form in the
B-horizon where clay has accumulated and indicate
poor water penetration.
4. Granular and Crumb: Spheroid peds of polyhedrons,
1–10 mm, often found in the A-horizon in the
presence of organic material. Crumb peds are more
porous and are considered ideal.
ANGULAR BLOCKY SOIL SUB ANGULAR SOIL GRANULAR SOIL
II. CLASSES OF SOIL STRUCTURE
1. Very fine or very thin <1 mm <5 mm <10 mm
2. Fine or thin 1–2 mm 5–10 mm 10–20 mm
3. Medium 2–5 mm 10–20 mm 20-50
4. Coarse or thick 5–10 mm 20–50 mm 50–100 mm
5. Very coarse or very thick >10 mm >50 mm >100 mm
III. GRADES OF SOIL STRUCTURE
1. Structureless: No aggregation or orderly arrangement.
Soil is entirely cemented together in one great mass.
2. Weak: Poorly formed; Non-durable. Weak
cementation allows peds to fall apart.
3. Moderate: Well formed; moderately durable.
Indistinct in undisturbed soil but may break into
aggregates. This is considered ideal.
4. Strong: Well formed; durable. Peds are distinct before
removed from the profile and do not break apart
FACTORS AFFECTING SOIL STRUCTURE
1. Climate: Climate influences the degree of aggregation as well as on
the type of soil structure.
In arid regions there is very little aggregation.
In semi arid regions, the degree of aggregation is greater.
2. Organic matter: Organic matter improves the structure of sandy soil &
In case of sandy soil, the sticky and slimy material produced by
decomposing om cement the sand particles together to form
In case of clayey soil, it modifies the properties of clay by reducing its
cohesiveness. This helps make clay more crumby.
3. Adsorbed cations: Aggregate formation is influenced by nature of
Na⁺ --- Deflocculation --- Poor structure
Ca²⁺ --- Flocculating --- Good structure
4. Tillage: Intensive cultivation increased infiltration capacity and
penetrability, but spolied soil structure. For obtaining good soil
structure, tillage operation should be made at optimum moisture
5. Type of vegetation: Grasslands and forest soils have high stability
6. Animals: Among the soil fauna small animals like earthworms,
moles and insects etc., that burrow in the soil are the chief agents
that take part in the aggregation of finer particles.
7. Microbes: Algae, fungi, actinomycetes and fungi keep the soil
8. Fertilizers: Fertilizer like Sodium Nitrate destroys granulation by
reducing the stability of aggregates. Few fertilizers for example,
CAN help in development of good structures.
9. Wetting and drying: When a dry soil is wetted, the soil colloids
swell on absorbing water. On drying, shrinkage produces strains in
the soil mass gives rise to cracks, which break it up into clods and
granules of various sizes.
Role of soil structure in relation to plant
Soil structure influences the amount and nature of
Structure controls the amount of water and air present in
It affects tillage practices.
Structure controls runoff and erosion.
Platy structure normally hinders free drainage whereas
sphere like structure (granular and crumby) helps in
Crumby and granular structure provides optimum
infiltration, water holding capacity, aeration and drainage.
It also provides good habitat for microorganisms and
supply of nutrients.