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Re-sampling the National Soil Inventory of Scotland (NSIS)

Image showing soil surveyors carrying out work in a soil profile pit
The National Soils Archive contains a collection of representative soil samples from all over Scotland

Plugging the evidence gap

The National Soil Inventory of Scotland is a regular grid of sample locations that were sampled in 1978 – 87 and was re-sampled from 2007-10 to:Image showing a soil profile pit. Annotations show the soil horizons, a spade is provided to show scale.

  • measure any changes in the last 25 years
  • test new indicators of soil health
  • test UK and EU monitoring methods
  • report on the status and stock of organic carbon and nutrients in the soil and their risk from threats such as climate change.

Soil forms in layers called horizons. These are sampled from an inspection pit dug down to 1 metre. Samples are air dried and analysed, then stored here.

Fresh and frozen samples are also taken to extract and analyse DNA to help understand the biology of our soils better.

The field protocols for both the first National Soil Inventory of Scotland and the second National Soil Inventory of Scotland are available for downloading using the above links.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.