Soils in Ireland

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One of the most important influences on a farm is the type of soil it has. Different plants grow in different soils. Brown soils are the most common soil type in Ireland. Brown soils are rich and fertile. They are found mostly in the Midlands and the eastern counties.

Another soil type found in Ireland is peaty soil. You will spot it when you see a layer of turf or peat at the surface. Peaty soils are quite wet and are acidic. Bog cotton and heather as well as coniferous trees can grow in these soils but most plants cannot. Peaty soils are found in some parts of the midlands and also in many parts of the west, north and south of Ireland. They are especially common in places where there is a high amount of rainfall. Peaty soils are not very fertile and because of this they are not very good for crop farming.

Other soils which are waterlogged are called gley soil. They have a lot of clay and are usually a light grey colour. You will often know where this type of soil is if you see rushes growing. Land with this type of soil is usually used for grazing animals. Gley soil can be drained and improved but it is expensive to do this as you have to dig drains for the water and add lime to reduce the acid. Many farmers prefer to use the land for rough grazing for sheep and goats.

Find the soil types


Be a detective

Can you get an example of two soil types in your local area. What differences can you notice between them?

See can you notice any sand or decayed remains of plants in it. Decayed remains of plants and animals is called humus.

Now it's time to get your hands mucky. There's no better way to understand the soil than feeling it for yourself. Click on the links below for further directions.