The following is a map unit description from the "Soil Survey of Barnstable County, Massachusetts (Fletcher, 1993)"
These undulating and rolling, very deep, excessively drained and well drained soils are on side slopes and hills in moraine areas. Slopes range from 3 to 15 percent. The soils make up approximately 0.5 percent (1 11 83 acres) of the survey area. They are mapped mainly in the Plymouth-Barnstable-Nantucket general soil map unit. Areas are irregular in shape and generally range from 20 to 100 acres in size. They are about 35 percent Barnstable soil, 25 percent Plymouth soil, 15 percent Nantucket soil, and 25 percent other soils. The soils occur as areas so intricately mixed or so small that separating them in mapping is not practical.
Typically, the surface of the Barnstable soil is covered with an organic layer. This layer is about 1 inch of undecomposed pine needles, leaves, and twigs and 2 inches of partly decomposed and well decomposed organic material. The surface layer is dark gray, very friable sandy loam about 1 inch thick. The subsoil is friable sandy loam about 22 inches thick. The upper 1 inch is dark brown, the next 7 inches is yellowish brown, and the lower 14 inches is light olive brown. The substratum to a depth of 65 inches or more is light yellowish brown, loose coarse sand.
Typically, the surface of the Plymouth soil is covered with an organic layer. This layer is about 1 inch of loose, undecomposed pine needles, leaves, and twigs and 1 inch of partly decomposed and well decomposed organic material. The surface layer is black, very friable loamy coarse sand in the upper 1 inch and gray, loose coarse sand in the lower 2 inches. The subsoil is about 26 inches thick. In sequence downward, it is 1 inch of dark brown, very friable gravelly loamy coarse sand; 5 inches of strong brown, very friable gravelly loamy coarse sand; 10 inches of yellowish brown, very friable gravelly loamy coarse sand; and 10 inches of light yellowish brown, loose gravelly coarse sand. The substratum extends to a depth of 65 inches or more. It is light brownish gray, loose gravelly coarse sand in the upper 12 inches and pale brown, loose coarse sand in the lower part.
Typically, the surface of the Nantucket soil is covered with an organic layer. This layer is about 1.5 inches of undecomposed leaves and twigs and 0.5 inch of partly decomposed and well decomposed organic material. The surface layer is about 5 inches thick. It is very dark grayish brown, very friable sandy loam in the upper 1 inch and dark yellowish brown, friable sandy loam in the lower 4 inches. The subsoil is friable sandy loam about 22 inches thick. The upper 12 inches is yellowish brown, and the lower 10 inches is light olive brown. The substratum to a depth of 65 inches is light olive brown, firm loam. Below a depth of 65 inches, the soil varies in texture and may have layers of loose gravel and sand.
Included with these soils in mapping are small areas of Boxford, Carver, Merrimac, and Hinckley soils. Also included are small areas where slopes are less than 3 percent or more than 15 percent and scattered spots where stones and boulders are on the surface. Included soils make up about 25 percent of this unit.
Permeability is moderately rapid in the subsoil of the Barnstable soil and rapid or very rapid in the substratum. Available water capacity is moderate. Depth to the seasonal high water table is more than 6 feet.
Permeability is rapid in the subsoil of the Plymouth soil and very rapid in the substratum. Available water capacity is low. Depth to the seasonal high water table is more than 6 feet.
Permeability is moderately rapid in the subsoil of the Nantucket soil and moderately slow or slow in the substratum. Available water capacity is moderate. Depth to the seasonal high water table is generally more than 6 feet. In some areas a perched seasonal high water table is at a depth of 2.0 to 2.5 feet in early spring.
Most areas have been developed for homesites. Many areas are wooded, and some areas are farmed.
These soils are suited to cultivated crops. Because of the variability of the soils, however, crop growth may vary. Erosion is a management concern in the strongly sloping areas. Stripcropping, terracing, minimizing tillage, growing cover crops, and including grasses and legumes in the cropping system help to control runoff and erosion. Droughtiness is a limitation in areas of the Plymouth soil. Irrigation is needed for most cultivated crops. Mixing crop residue and manure into the surface layer improves tilth and increases the organic matter content.
These soils are suited to hay and pasture. The main management objective is the prevention of overgrazing, which reduces the hardiness and density of desirable plants and exposes the soils to erosion. Proper stocking rates, timely grazing, and restricted use during wet periods help to maintain plant density and minimize surface compaction.
These soils are suited to woodland. No major hazards or limitations restrict woodland management on the Barnstable and Nantucket soils. The Plymouth soil is droughty. As a result, some seedling loss is expected. Thinning dense stands to standard stocking levels results in more vigorous tree growth. Removal or control of competing vegetation may be necessary for the best growth of newly established seedlings. The most common trees are pitch pine, white oak, scarlet oak, eastern white pine, and black oak.
Areas of these soils that have slopes of more than 8 percent are limited as sites for buildings. Land grading is generally needed. Buildings and lots should be designed so that they conform to the natural slope of the land. Erosion is a hazard during and after construction. Planting well suited grasses as soon as possible after the surface is disturbed minimizes the erosion hazard.
These soils are limited as sites for septic tank absorption fields. The Barnstable and Plymouth soils may not adequately filter the effluent, and the Nantucket soil does not readily absorb the effluent. The pollution of ground water is a hazard in areas of the Barnstable and Plymouth soils, and seepage is a hazard in areas of the Nantucket soil. Onsite investigation is needed to determine the suitability of a given area and the measures needed to overcome the limitations. The capability subclass is Ille.