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Guidelines for Estimating Soil Moisture Conditions

Soil Moisture Deficit (SMD) in inches per foot when the feel and appearance of the soil are as described
Available Soil Moisture Percent Coarse Texture Moderately Coarse Texture Medium Texture Fine Texture
Soil Texture Fine Sand and Loamy Fine Sand Sandy Loam and Fine Sandy Loam Sandy Clay Loam, Loam, and Silt Loam Clay, Clay Loam, or Silty Clay Loam
Available Soil Moisture Percent Available Water Capacity 0.6 to 1.2 inches per foot Available Water Capacity 1.3 to 1.7 inches per foot Available Water Capacity 1.5 to 2.1 inches per foot Available Water Capacity 1.6 to 2.4 inches per foot
0 to 25 Dry, loose, will hold together if not disturbed, loose sand grains on fingers with applied pressure.

SMD 1.2 to 0.5

Dry, forms a very weak ball, aggregated soil grains break away easily from ball.

SMD 1.7 -1.0

Dry. Soil aggregations break away easily. no moisture staining on fingers, clods crumble with applied pressure.

SMD 2.1-1.1

Dry, soil aggregations easily separate, clods are hard to crumble with applied pressure

SMD 2.4-1.2

25 to 50 Slightly moist, forms a very weak ball with well-defined finger marks, light coating of loose and aggregated sand grains remain on fingers.

SMD O.9-0.3

Slightly moist, forms a weak ball with defined finger marks, darkened color, no water staining on fingers, grains break away.

SMD 1.3-0.7

Slightly moist, forms a weak ball with rough surfaces, no water staining on fingers, few aggregated soil grains break away.

SMD1.6-0.8

Slightly moist, forms a weak ball, very few soil aggregations break away, no water stains, clods flatten with applied pressure

SMD 1.8-0.8

50 to 75 Moist, forms a weak ball with loose and aggregated sand grains on fingers, darkened color, moderate water staining on fingers, will not ribbon.

SMD O.6-0.2

Moist, forms a ball with defined finger marks. very light soil/water staining on fingers. darkened color, will not slick.

SMD O.9-0.3

Moist, forms a ball, very light water staining on fingers, darkened color, pliable, forms a weak ribbon between thumb and forefinger.

SMD 1.1- 0.4

Moist. forms a smooth ball with defined finger marks, light soil/water staining on fingers, ribbons between thumb and forefinger.

SMD l.2-0.4

75 to 100 Wet, forms a weak ball, loose and aggregated sand grains remain on fingers, darkened color, heavy water staining on fingers, will not ribbon.

SMD O.3-0.0

Wet, forms a ball with wet outline left on hand, light to medium water staining on fingers, makes a weak ribbon between thumb and forefinger.

SMD O.4-0.0

Wet, forms a ball with well defined finger marks, light to heavy soil/water coating on fingers, ribbons between , thumb and forefinger.

SMD O.5 -0.0

Wet, forms a ball, uneven medium to heavy soil/water coating on fingers, ribbons easily between thumb and forefinger.

SMD O.6-0.0

Field Capacity (100 percent) Wet, forms a weak ball, moderate to heavy soil/water coating on fingers, wet outline of soft ball remains on hand.

SMD 0.0

Wet, forms a soft ball, free water appears briefly on soil surface after squeezing or shaking,medium to heavy soil/water coating on fingers.

SMD 0.0

Wet, forms a soft ball, free water appears briefly on soil surface after squeezing or shaking, medium to heavy soil/water coating on fingers.

SMD 0.0

Wet, forms a soft ball, free water appears on soil surface after squeezing or shaking, thick soil/water coating on fingers, slick and sticky.

SMD 0.0