Loams are gritty, plastic when moist, and retain water easily, yet they keep a lot of the water. They generally contain more nutrients than sandy soils. In addition to the term loam, different names are given to soils with slightly different proportions of sand, silt, and clay: sandy loam, silty loam, clay loam, sandy clay loam, silty clay loam.
A "loamy" soil feels mellow and is easy to work over a wide range of moisture conditions. 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 become unlike loamy earth if it is compacted, depleted of organic matter, or has dispersive clay in its fine-earth fraction.
Loam soil is ideal for growing crops because it retains nutrients well and retains water while still allowing the water to flow freely. This soil is found in a majority of the Midwest, and most successful farms in the area are types of loam soil.
In house construction
Loam is also used for the construction of houses. Walls covered inside with a layer of loam work well to control air humidity. Loam, combined with straw, is also a widely-used construction material in poorer countries.
See also: humus