Great Lakes Worm Watch

Research »

Research Methods

What differentials sand, silt and clay particles?


loose and single grained.  The individual grains can readily be seen or felt.  Squeezed in the hand when dry, it will fall apart when pressure is released.  Squeezed when moist, it will form a cast, but will crumble when touched.

Sandy Loam:

soil containing much sand but which has enough silt and clay to make it somewhat coherent.  The individual sand grains can be readily seen and felt.  Squeezed when dry, it will form a cast which will readily fall apart, but if squeezed when moist a cast can be formed that will bear careful handling without breaking.


soil having a relatively even mixture of different grades of sand and of silt and clay.  It is mellow with a somewhat gritty feel, yet fairly smooth and slightly plastic.  Squeezed when dry, it will form a cast that will bear careful handling, while the cast formed by squeezing soil can be handled quite freely without breaking.

Silt Loam:

soil having a moderate amount of the fine grades of sand and only a small amount of clay, over half of the particles being of the size called "silt:".  When dry it may appear cloddy but the lumps can be readily broken, and when pulverized it feels soft and floury.  When wet the soil readily runs together and puddles.  Either dry or moist it will form casts that can be freely handled without breaking, but when moistened and squeezed between thumb and finger it will not "ribbon" but will give a broken appearance.

Clay Loam:

fine textured soil which usually breaks into clods or lumps that are hard when dry.  When the moist soil is pinched between the thumb and finger it will form a thin "ribbon" which will break readily, barely sustaining its own weight.  The moist soil is plastic and will form a cast that will bear much handling.  When kneaded in the hand it does not crumble readily but tends to work into a heavy compact mass.


fine textured soil that usually forms very hard lumps or clods when dry and is quite plastic and usually sticky when wet.  When the moist soil is pinched out between the thumb and fingers it will form a long, flexible "ribbon".


well-decomposed organic soil.


raw undecomposed organic material in which the original fibers constitute almost all the material.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
University of Minnesota Duluth Privacy Statement
125 Bohannon Hall
1207 Ordean Court
Duluth, MN 55812       218-721-3731