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Soils – Introduction

Distrobution of soils The type and nature of the soil is central to much of the discussion and debate relating to sustainability. There are a number of characteristics and properties of soils that will contribute to their sustainable use.

For example in considering climate change it is important that the extent and distribution of organic peat soils can be quantified to understand how large a sink for carbon storage these soils represent. Similarly when combined with other environmental data the texture of a soil provides an initial indicator of sensitivity to land management practices or pollution.

The map shows that Scotland is dominated by four soil types:

Click on a name to find out more or view the map to see the distribution of the different soils.

Soils are classified according to the nature and sequence of horizons in the soil profile resulting from the interaction of:

For a small country, Scotland has a wide variety of soil types. While these pages relate to Scottish conditions, the underlying principles are more widely applicable, particularly to Northern Europe.

Learning & Resources


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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.