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Pedologist’s report – Soil characteristics for "Heather"

Heather cross sectionName:

Humus-iron podzol


Up to 10000 years but in places modified from its original form


Eastern and Central Highlands, some in the eastern Southern Uplands

Preferred soil functions:

in its natural state, as part of a heather or native woodland habitat. Where cultivated, supports mixed farming


Depends on depth of parent material. Soil becomes more dense (heavier) with depth


Near black at the surface, strong brown colour at depth


Freely drained, naturally acid and low in plant nutrients. Whole character of soil changes where ploughed


The natural soil has a thin, very dark organic-rich surface horizon, with a light grey horizon immediately below. Sustains valuable heather and native woodland habitats. These horizons have been substantially modified and mixed by ploughing in places. Very bright colours in the subsoil signify free drainage and accumulation of iron oxides.

Health advice:

Best to leave both versions of this soil as they are, although cultivated humus-iron podzols require periodic liming and fertilization. Where covered by heather, periodic burning is carried out and where tree planting is planned, it is better not to plough the soil.

Learning & Resources


Printed from /learning/dirt-doctor/humus-iron-podzol on 21/02/24 12:36:47 AM

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.