Skip Navigation

Soil Moisture Appearance of Clay, Clay Loam, and Silty Clay Loam Soils

Appearance of clay, clay loam, and silty clay loam soils at various soil moisture conditions.

Available Water Capacity 1.6-2.4 inches/foot:

Percent Available: Currently available soil moisture as a percent of available water capacity.

In/ft. Depleted: Inches of water needed to refill a foot of soil to field capacity.

0-25 percent available 2.4-1.2 in/ft. depleted: Dry, soil aggregations separate easily, clods are hard to crumble with applied pressure. (Not pictured)

25-50 percent available 1.8-0.8 in/ft. depleted (Figure 1):  Slightly moist, forms a weak ball, very few soil aggregations break away, no water stains, clods flatten with applied pressure.

Figure 1 - 25 to 50 % Available Moisture






Figure 1

50 - 75 percent available 1.2-0.4 in./ft. depleted (Figure2): Moist, forms a smooth ball with defined finger marks, light soil/water staining on fingers, ribbons between thumb and forefinger.

Figure 2 - 50 to 75% available moisture





Figure 2

75-100 percent available 0.6-0.0 in./ft. depleted(Figure 3):  Wet, forms a ball, uneven medium to heavy soil/water coating on fingers, ribbons easily between thumb and forefinger.

Figure 3 - 75 to 100% available moisture






Figure 3

100 percent available 0.0 in./ft. depleted (field capacity):  Wet, forms a soft ball, free water appears on soil surface after squeezing or shaking, thick soil/water coating on fingers, slick and sticky. (Not pictured)