MLRA 129: Sand Mountain
B.F. Hajek and J. Dane
This major land resource area (MLRA 129) is about 71% woodland, 8%
cropland, and 16% pastureland. About 4% is used for coal mining, urban
development, or other purposes (Table 1).
About 83 to 88% of the woodland is privately owned, 10 to 15% industry
owned, and about 2% federally owned. Timber production is mostly in the
southern half of the area. Poultry production is the major farm enterprise.
Corn, cotton, and vegetables are the major cash crops. Controlling erosion
on soils that are cropped is the primary concern of management. Pastures
are grazed mainly by beef cattle and are important disposal areas for poultry
Elevation and Topography
Elevation ranges from 100 to 400 m, but a few mountaintops are as high
as 500 m. The area is deeply dissected and consists mainly of a series
of rather narrow valleys, steep escarpments, and broad plateaus that are
underlain by sandstone and shale. Valley floors are commonly about 100
m below adjacent plateau summits.
Average annual precipitation - 1,300 to 1,400 mm. Precipitation is
somewhat unevenly distributed. The maximum is in midwinter, decreasing
gradually from spring to autumn and increasing slightly in midsummer. The
average annual temperature is 16 to 17°C. Average freeze-free period
is mainly 200 to 210 days but ranges to 240 days in some valleys.
In most years, precipitation is adequate for crops and pastures. Droughts
are short and infrequent. Streams, springs, and ponds provide water for
livestock. Deep wells provide an adequate supply of water for most domestic
and municipal uses. Most streams flow intermittently and are often dry
in summer and in autumn except after rainstorms. A few large reservoirs
are in the area.
The dominant soils are Hapludults, Dystrochrepts, Paleudults, and Fragiudults.
STATSGO soils are depicted in Fig. 1. They have an udic moisture regime,
a thermic temperature regime, and siliceous and mixed mineralogy. They
are over sandstone and shale and are mostly moderately fine textured to
fine textured. Moderately deep, nearly level to steep Hapludults (Nauvoo,
Hartsells, Albertville, and Townley series) are on broad plateaus, ridge
tops, mountaintops, or upper side slopes. Deep Paleudults (Nella and Allen
series) and Fragiudults (Wynnville series) are on some of the more level
upland and sideslope sites. Shallow, gravelly and very gravelly, nearly
level to steep Dystrochrepts (Montevallo and Hector series) are on narrow
upper valley slopes and ridge tops. Areas of rock outcrop are common on
these sites. Soils commonly found in adjacent MLRAs (133A) are associated
with Sand Mountain soils at contacts (Smithdale, Pikeville) Table
2. Official series descriptions of the Montevallo, Townley, Wynnville,
Nauvoo, Hartsells, and Gorgas series are included. Official series descriptions
for all established series are available on the Iowa State University Statlab
home page (www.statlab.iastate.edu/ cgi-bin/osd/osdname.cgi).
Characteristics of Soils in MLRA 129
Table 3 gives selected soil characteristics
of Sand Mountain soils that relate to water and solute transport. Additional
data can be obtained from a soils database provided with EPIC (Environmental
Policy Integrated Climate) model.
Chemical, Mineralogical, and Engineering Properties of Alabama and
Mississippi Black Belt Soils. Southern Coop. Series No. 130.
Land Resource Regions and Major Resource Areas of the United States.
Ag. Handbook 296 STATSGO, in SMIS (Southern Management Information System),
Texas A&M, Temple, Texas 76502.
Staff. 1995. NRI 1992 National Resources Inventory. USDA-NRCS, Fort
Worth, Texas 76115-0567. (Four CDs).