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Introduction to Soils

Image showing soil profile
Soils represent one of the most complex and dynamic natural systems studied by scientists.

Soils represent one of the most complex and dynamic natural systems studied by scientists. Knowledge of their chemical, physical and biological properties is a prerequisite both for sustaining the productivity of the land, for example agriculture and forestry and for conservation purposes. The communication of soil knowledge is therefore no easy task but these posters are designed to explain some of this background knowledge, particularly for use by senior school pupils.


The first poster explains how soil is formed, followed by three further posters, which give details on some of the principal soils found in Scotland. The final poster explains and simplifies some of the common terminology and definitions used to describe and understand soils.

To ensure that the posters comply with aspects of the Higher Geography curriculum, advice was sought from Secondary Principal Geography Teachers Elaine Anderson, Ellon Academy, Aberdeenshire and Helen Taylor, Harlaw Academy, Aberdeen whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged.

These posters provide information on ecosystem development, vegetation succession and describes the stages of development of a Scots pine forest climax community and that of a heather moorland plagioclimax community. These posters are part of the Biosphere section of the Geography higher curriculum.

A CD with an "Introduction to soils" is also available. Contact: General enquiries

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.