The CEC is the abbreviation for the cation exchange capacity of the soil. Any element with a positive charge is called a cation and in this case, it refers to the the basic cations, calcium (Ca+2), magnesium (Mg+2), potassium (K+1) and s odium (Na+1) and the acidic cations, hydrogen (H+1) and aluminum (Al+3). The amount of these positively charged cations a soil can hold is described as the CEC and is expressed in milliequivalents per 100 grams (meq/100g) of soil. The larger this number, the more cations the soil can hold. A clay soil will have a larger CEC than a sandy soil. In the Southeast, where we have highly weathered soils, the dominant clay type is kaolinite which has very little capacity to hold cations. A typical CEC for a s oil in the Coastal Plains region is about 2.0 meq/100g of soil and the typical CEC for a soil in the Piedmont region is about 5.0 meq/100g of soil. The CEC gives an indication of the soils potential to hold plant nutrients. Increasing the organic matter content of any soil will help to increase the CEC since it also holds cations like the clays. Organic matter has a high CEC but there is typically little organic matter in our soils.