Loam is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even proportions (about 40%-40%-20% concentration respectively). These proportions can vary to a degree however, and result in different types of loam soils: sandy loam, silty loam, clay loam, sandy clay loam, silty clay loam, and loam. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients, moisture, and humus than sandy soils, have better drainage and infiltration of water and air than silty soils, and are easier to till than clay soils. The different types of loam soils each have slightly different characteristics, with some draining liquids more efficiently than others.
Loam is considered ideal for gardening and agricultural uses because it retains nutrients well and retains water while still allowing excess water to drain away. A soil dominated by one or two of the three particle size groups can behave like loam if it has a strong granular structure, promoted by a high content of organic matter. However, a soil that meets the textural definition of loam can lose its characteristic desirable qualities when it is compacted, depleted of organic matter, or has clay dispersed throughout its fine-earth fraction.[clarification needed]
Loam is found in a majority of successful farms in regions around the world known for their fertile land. Loam soil feels soft and crumbly and is easy to work over a wide range of moisture conditions.
Use in house construction
Loam may be used for the construction of houses. Construction crews can build a layer of loam on the inside of walls, which can help to control air humidity. Loam, combined with straw, can be used as a rough construction material to build walls. This is one of the oldest technologies for house construction in the world. Within this there are two broad methods: the use of rammed earth, or unfired bricks (adobe).
- Kaufmann, Robert K.; Cutler J. Cleveland (2008). Environmental Science. McGraw-Hill. pp. 318–319. ISBN 978-0-07-298429-3.
- B. Rosie Lerner, "What is Loam?", Purdue University Consumer Horticulture, 6 January 2000. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Gerhard Koch, "Loam Construction – from a niche product to an industrial building system". Tokyo: Action for Sustainability – The 2005 World Sustainable Building Conference in Tokyo, Japan, September 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
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