Scientists creating first unified digital soil map of UK

soil map

Scientists are working to develop the first digital map of its kind in a bid to improve the quality and scope of the UK’s soil data.

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute are working on the development which will contribute to the worldwide Global Soil Map project and improve available data for researchers and stakeholders in the UK and beyond to utilise for many different projects.

PhD researcher Grant Campbell, from Cranfield University/James Hutton Institute, aims to improve the quality and range of Scotland and England and Wales soils data by using Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) and modelling algorithms with spatial aggregation of the environment and use of soils data by stakeholders.

He is being supported by the Macaulay Development Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

“Current soil information is often insufficient to address major global issues such as food security, water resource management and climate change mitigation," says Campbell.

"In many places, much of the existing soils information is outdated and of poor resolution but in Great Britain we have a wealth of soils data we can use to develop and test methods to help provide adequate information in those data-poor areas.

“We hope to provide stakeholders with improved soil information, maps, models and data products, which may help them in developing strategies and policies for improved land management and resource use.”

The project will produce unique unified datasets across Scotland and England and Wales with future potential wide scale use for many different stakeholder groups such as academics, ecologists and hydrologists.

Additionally, it is hoped to incorporate key soil properties such as pH and soil texture and specific soil functions, such as carbon yield and species abundance.

This project also seeks to make a significant contribution to the Global Soil Map initiative, which aims to generate digital soil map products at 100m grid scales.

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