Soil particles come in three main size categories; sand, silt and clay. Knowledge of soil texture can be important when diagnosing issues such as drought stress, compaction and certain crop diseases, such as root rots and Fusarium. It can also be used to help schedule irrigation.
Hand texturing is the most common way to determine soil texture. A particle size analysis will give a complete breakdown of soil texture. This lab test is fairly expensive, but the information can be used to calculate the water holding capacity of a soil for irrigation scheduling. Soil texture in most fields is highly variable. It also changes dramatically within the soil profile. When assessing soil-texture related problems, such as drainage, it is valuable to identify the soil texture at depths below the plow layer.
A shovel, soil probe or soil auger will give easy access to the soil profile for texturing.