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Soil Parent Material

Soil Associations

  • An array of different soil parent materials exists within Scotland, the direct result of different phases of glaciation.
  • Soil parent materials fall into different groupings.

    • Shattered rock or rock in situ
    • Glacial drift (unsorted, weathered mineral material moved by ice), including colluvium and solifluction deposits.
    • Lodgement till being ground up rock material characteristically unsorted, deposited by ice.
    • Water-modified glacial till with the upper soil horizons of coarser texture than the underlying till.
    • Fluvio-glacial meltwater deposits of sand and gravel and in highland areas, morainic deposits.
    • Mountain-top detritus; frost shattered debris with common rock and scree.
    • Recent deposits, including Aeolian sand, alluvium raised beach deposits, peat and saltings
  • Balrownie Series, developed on Old Red Siltsone, with distinctive colour
    Balrownie Series, developed on Old Red Siltsone, with distinctive colour
    An association represents a grouping of soils developed on the same or similar parent material e.g. Countesswells Association includes glacial drift derived from granite or granitic rock.
  • There are 144 associations mapped within Scotland, the 15 most extensive are listed below. Click on an association to find out more.

The soil parent material has a major influence on the chemical properties and the texture of the soil and, to a lesser extent, on soil colour.

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.