Agricultural Science

Clay soil explained with its types and characteristics

len Alfred Ajibola - 21st August, 2023 @ 07:38 AM

Topics in Agricultural Science

Soil formation in agricuture Economic empowerment through agricuture Management as a factor of production in agriculture Labor as a factor of production in agriculture Finance as a factor of production in agriculture Water as a factor of production in agriculture Land as a factor of production in agriculture Len Academy Agricultural Science midterm questions for JSS1, 2nd term Len Academy Agricultural Science midterm questions for jss2, 2nd term Clay soil explained with its types and characteristics Loamy soil explained with its characteristics Sandy soil: Characteristics of sandy soil and ways to make it fertile Soil explained with its composition Types of agricultural practices Crop rotation explained Benefits of crop rotation Differences between subsistence and commercial farming Subsistence farming explained with its characteristics What is commercial farming? Types of commercial farming Characteristics of commercial farming

Academic Questions in Agricultural Science

Please click here to see all Questions and Answers

The ideal pH for the optimum growth of most agricultural crop is between _____.

  • A. 1 – 3.5

  • B. 4 – 5.5

  • C. 6 – 7.5

  • D. 8 – 9.5

  • E. 10 – 11.5

  • F. 12 – 13.5

People who go about their lives by raising and herding livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats are said to practice _____.

  • A. Pastoralism

  • B. Pasturalism

  • C. Herding

  • D. Herdsmen

  • E. Animalism

  • F. Anime Farming

The act of giving birth in pigs is called _____.

  • A. Calving

  • B. Piggery

  • C. Kidding

  • D. Farrowing

  • E. Calfing

  • F. Pigging

Which of the following is not a vegetable?

  • A. Cashew

  • B. Cocumber

  • C. Tomatoes

  • D. Carrot

  • E. Squash

  • F. Eggplant

All plants are crops.

  • A. True

  • B. False

In agriculture, macronutrients are essential nutrients required by plants. Which of the following is not a macronutrient?

  • A. Zinc

  • B. Sulphur

  • C. Calcium

  • D. Phosphorus

  • E. Potassium

  • F. Magnesium

Which of the following is false concerning micronutrients?

  • A. They are non-essential nutrients

  • B. They are required by plants in minute quantities

  • C. Iron is a micronutrient

  • D. Chlorine is a micronutrient

  • E. Copper is a micronutrient

  • F. Boron is a micronutrient

_____ is a term that describes the biological, chemical and cultural control tactics employed to make pest management economical, environmentally friendly and socially acceptable.

  • A. Integrated Pest Management

  • B. Integral Pest Management

  • C. International Pest Management

  • D. Inclusive Pest Management

  • E. Imbibed Pest Management

  • F. Inclusion Pest Management

Clay Soil:

Clay soil is considered as one of the popular soil types. Their particles are fine-grained (less than 2 μm in size), and are made up of various minerals, especially aluminium phyllosilicates which includes Al2Si2O5(OH)(halloysite), Si4Al4O10(OH)(kaolinite) and Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 (serpentine). Meanwhile, understand that 'particle size' is a fundamental parameter in describing clay.

Other major components forming the raw materials of clay include illite, montmorillonite, micas, smectite, bentonite, vermiculite and chlorite; with these formed in the presence of water.

Please read on loamy soil here.

Variable amount of crystalline minerals (inorganic ions) are also present in clay. They include positively charged ions (cations) like potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and iron respectively. In this regard, clays are majorly considered as inorganic materials. These minerals have a great capacity to hold water and dissolved plant nutrients.

You can read on ions and electrolytes here.


From the above paragraph, it is quite clear that clay soils are rich in minerals (or inorganic compounds). However, they may still contain little organic material (humus). Pore spaces are very tiny in clay soils, resulting in the poor passage of air within it. Another implication of the negligible pore spaces between clay particles is the fact that only little water can penetrate it. For this reason, they can become easily waterlogged. This property of clay soil is quite contrasting to sandy soil.

Please read on sandy soil here.


Although clay soils are rich in minerals, they aren't still the ideal soil for cultivating most crops. However, they may still support the growth of certain crops like broccoli, potato, winter beans, winter wheat, spruce and pine tree.


Clay soil may contain other particles like sand, silt and loam. However, the amount of clay present alongside these particles (within a clay soil) is over 50%. This is shown below:

Composition of clay soil - Len Academy


In comparison with other soil types, clay soil is quite denser (heavier), with a higher concentration of nutrients, and a higher water retention capacity.

Please read the introduction to soil here.


Weather conditions can significantly alter the shape of clay soils. On a wet environment, they can become sticky, and in this instance can attach to the shoes of whoever walks on it. Objects can also be moulded from it in this state. On the contrary, clay soil can become hardened (breakable) when dry.

You can attempt agricultural science questions and answers here.


Clays are generally classified into two types based on their place of origin, alongside their deposited location. They include:

  • Residual clay: They are formed from weathering, and are found at the location where the breakdown occured. Weathering in this regard include the chemical breakdown of rocks, alongside the solution of rocks and shale.

  • Transported clay: As the name implies, they are displaced from their site of origin through erosion, and are deposited at a distant location. Transported clay are sometimes referred to as sedimentary clay.

    You can read on sedimentary rocks here.


Characteristics of Clay Soil

  1. Clay soil can be red, brown, reddish brown or even white in color. The image below shows a reddish brown colored clay soil.
    Clay Soil - Len Academy
    Please read on various agricultural terms and meanings here.

  2. The particles of clay soil are fine-grained with a size lesser than 0.002mm (< 2 μm), giving them a large surface area.

  3. Clay soil typically retain large amounts of nutrients and minerals which can be somewhat beneficial to certain crops. This is so because soil nutrients aren't lost via leaching.
    Please read on soil erosion here.

  4. When clay soil becomes wet, they develop plasticity, thus becoming sticky.

  5. The structure of clay soil is dependent on weather conditions. In this regard, they have the capacity to swell when wet, and shrink when dry.

  6. Since the particles of clay soil are closely packed together, they have little air spaces, and are thus poorly aerated.
    You can read interesting facts for students in agriculture here.

  7. Inability of water to easily penetrate the closely packed particles of clay results into its waterlogging during rainy seasons.

  8. Clay soil can become moldable into different objects. In fact, they are utilized in the production of ceramics through various processes.
    Please read more on ceramics here.

  9. Although clay soil holds more total water compared to other soil types, their plants still suffer from drought as a result of the soil's inadequate release of its waters.

  10. They often lack phosphate ions but contain the ions of alkali metals and alkaline earth metals.

  11. Clay soil is quite acidic. Lime can be added to increase its pH, thus making it somewhat alkaline. This alkalinity results into the aggregation of clay particles into smaller clumps, thereby improving its quality as an agricultural soil.
    You can read on the physical and chemical properties of acids here.

  12. Examples of plants that can thrive on clay soil include pine tree, crabapple, spruce, willows, balsam fir, tamarack tree and some maples. Animals that can survive within clay soils include ants, earthworms, millipedes , centipedes, termites and beetles.

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Amazing facts in Agricultural Science

Cows technically have one stomach, not four. However, a cow's stomach has four compartments. These are: rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum

Peanuts are legumes and not nuts

Although plants neither see nor hear, they can recognize their siblings and even give them preferential treatments

Squirrels do plant more trees (through their actions) than an average human in their lifetime. They often hide their acorns and nuts underground and forget about them

Cows have got the ability to walk up stairs, but not down stairs

A group of cows is called a team, drove or herd.

People just prefer to call them herd

Notable points in Agricultural Science

Below are characteristics of gymnosperms:

  1. Their seeds have cones that protect them.

  2. Sepals and petals aren't present in their cones.

  3. Stigma and style are absent.

  4. They do not produce fruits. Only seeds are formed.

  5. Companion cells are absent.

  6. Sporophyll form the cones.

  7. Anther and filament are absent.

  8. The ovules are not present in the ovary.

  9. Gymnosperms do not possess flowers.

  10. Please read on the anatomical differences between gymnosperms and angiosperms here

The flower is the reproductive organ in plants' sexual reproduction. In order to achieve a successful sexual propagation or reproduction in plants, the floral parts of the flower are utilized.

The floral parts of a flower consists of the followings:

  1. Sepals

  2. Petals

  3. Stamen

  4. Carpel

The stamen is male portion of a plant. It consists of the anther and filament.

The carpel (or pistil) is the female portion of the plant. It consists of the stigma, style and ovary.

Please read more on plants' sexual reproduction here

An organism will be considered a pest if it does one of the followings:

  • Attack crops and eat its seeds, roots, stem, leaves and flowers. Examples are locust and grasshoppers.

  • Cause damage to stored food, fruits or other agricultural produce. Some may even urinate or deaficate on these products. Examples are rodents, cockroaches and mice.

  • Attack and kill farm animals like goats, sheep and cattle. Examples are foxes, wild cats and snakes.

  • Act as disease vectors. A vector is an organism that carries parasite and other disease causing organisms, without being affected; but when they introduce the parasites into their host, such host becomes infected with disease. Examples of vectors are rodents and mosquitoes.

    Please read more on vectors of diseases here.

Below are the classification of crops based on their uses:

  • Oil crops

  • Vegetable crops

  • Latex crops

  • Drug and Medicinal crops

  • Beverage crops

  • Fibre crops

  • Fruit crops

  • Root and Tubers

  • Legumes

  • Spices

  • Cereals

All crops are plants but not all plants are crops. Below are some instances:

  • Weeds are considered as plants, not crops.

  • Parasitic plants are not necessarily crops. Examples of parasitic plants include mistletoe, corpse flower and striga.

  • Carnivorous or insectivorous plants are not necessarily crops. Examples are sundew, venus flytrap and pitcher plant. The image below shows a carnivorous plant (venus flytrap).

Venus flytrap - Len Academy


Meanwhile, always understand that all crops are plants, and they are grown for food, money or something beneficial.

Please read on plants versus crops here