What is "CEC"?

Asked May 30, 2013, 9:54 AM EDT

In my soil test (B6F5ZB) results you mention "CEC". What is CEC and what does the numbers mean? Please explain. thanks, Max

Macomb County Michigan soil testing soil fertility soils

1 Response

Your online soil test results can help you understand what things are. Hover your mouse over the CEC and an explanation pops up.

Bur CEC stands for cation exchange capacity (it's pronounced cat-ion). It is a measure of how well your soil holds water and nutients. It is a term to describe the number of negatively charged sites in the soil that can adsorb (that's right-it is not absorb) cations and exchange them for other cations. The higer the number, the heavier the soil is. For example: 1-5 CEC usually means a very sandy soil. If the soil is more claylike, the number may be 18 or 20. Organic soils are usually in the range of 20 or above.

And no, there is no perfect or best CEC. You just would rather not deal with sand or clay.