Batcombe series soils readily break down to good tilths, Beccles series soils form cloddy seed beds that are resistant to weathering, and Stackyard series soils form unstable tilths that readily break down. The soils differ in their particle-size distribution. The proposition that such differences contributed to the differences in field behaviour was examined by forming artificial soils, each of which was made up from particles of one of the soils, but redistributed with respect to size in the proportion in which they occurred in one of the other soils.
As a measure of the relevant physical properties, breaking strengths and bulk densities of cylindrical ‘clods’ moulded from the artificial soils were determined. To aid interpretation of the observed soil properties, similar measurements were made on individual fractions, on various other mixtures and on the parent soils.
The breaking strengths of the soils made up to a given particle-size distribution from particles from the different parent soils were reasonably close to each other, with those for the Beccles distribution being more variable. There was a significant difference between the two. The strength of the reconstituted Batcombe soil was markedly greater than that of its parent soil, whereas that for Beccles soil was markedly less. There was little difference for the Stackyard soil.
The bulk densities of saturated soils reconstituted from all nine fractions could be estimated reasonably accurately from the properties of the separate components. The structure of each of these soils in the air-dry state was inferred from comparisons between measured and calculated bulk densities. The breaking strengths of air-dry reconstituted soils were estimated from the properties of the separate components, and agreed reasonably well with the measured values for soils in which the clay and fine silt fractions predominated.
Whereas it was generally possible to predict various physical properties of the reconstituted soils from those of the separate fractions, it was not possible to extrapolate the results to explain field behaviour.