Stony soils

Soils which are either stony or rocky throughout or gravelly with a cemented layer above 80 centimetres (cm).

Identifying properties

  • Rocks, gravel and stones are dominant throughout the profile
  • Ironstone gravelly soils with cemented gravel (ferricrete) at <80cm
  • Usually associated with rock outcrops

Map of distribution

Map of distribution

Key soil issues

Issues Description
Water storage Stones, gravels and rock restrict soil water storage. Degree of restriction depends on proportion of stones, soil depth and texture of matrix. Ranges from extremely low in shallow sandy gravels to moderate for deeper loamy soils
Fertility These soils typically have very low to moderate natural fertility
Alkalinity These soils are rarely alkaline. The exception, Calcareous stony soil, is a minor soil type of the Wheatbelt
Acidity and aluminium toxicity These soils are typically moderately acidic in the topsoil and slightly acidic in the shallow subsoil
Salinity Soil salinity is rare
Hardpan and gravel Gravels and stones make this soil poorly suited to cultivation
Shallow soil depth These have highly variable soil depth
Boron toxicity Nil, except Calcareous stony soils
Soil structure Soil structure is variable
Perched water tables Perched water tables are rare
Water repellence Sandy surfaced stony soils are moderately water repellent
Hard setting topsoil Some with sandy loam surfaces are hard setting
Erodibility Loose topsoils in exposed positions can be susceptibility to wind erosion though surface rocks reduce wind strength. Water erosion can be a problem on sloping land. This can be exacerbated by rapid run-off from rock outcrops
Workability Depends on the size and quantity of the stones as well as the distribution of rock outcrops

West Australian (WA) soil Groups included in this category

WA soil group

(Ref no.)

Brief description Common names


(millimetres per minute (mm/m))**

Calcareous stony soil (202) Soils which are stony or rocky and calcareous throughout   Extremely low to moderately low
Stony soil (203) Soils which are coarse gravelly, stony or rocky throughout   Moderate to extremely low
Shallow gravel (304) Ironstone gravel soil over cemented gravels (ferricrete), rock or other hard or permanently cemented layers at <80cm Buckshotgravel, Ironstone cap, Shallow gravel Extremely low to low

**Extremely low: <30mm/m

Very low: 30 - 50mm/m

Low: 50 - 70mm/m

Moderately low: 70 - 100mm/m

Moderate: 100 - 130mm/m

High: >130mm /m 

Bold indicates the dominant or most common values

Contact information

David Hall
+61 (0) 8 9083 1142
Page last updated: Monday, 17 February 2014 - 3:52pm