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Digital Soils: Morphometrics

Digital Soil Morphometrics
"Digital soils at the James Hutton Institute"

The spatial structure of soil (both down and across the profile) can provide important information about the properties of the soil, its formation, history and functionality. Measurements can be made at different scales and can include full profile descriptions based on soil horizons or can involve mathematical descriptions of soil structure down to the micrometre scale. Many soil properties such as organic matter content, clay content and pH can vary greatly with depth and the way they are measured also depends on the property in question. Traditional soil profile descriptions involving expert field surveyors are still important, but new techniques are providing additional ways of describing the profile. These can include spectroscopic measurements in the field, image analysis applied to photographs of profiles and deriving mathematical functions of how soil properties vary with depth. Recent work also includes the conversion of soil profile characterisations into formal taxonomic identification of soil types using existing classification systems such as the World Reference Base soil classification system. This will allow us to link field observations, laboratory analysis and soil mapping approaches together to provide appropriate soil functionality information to different stakeholder groups such as farmers, policymakers and other researchers.

Associated staff:

Matt Aitkenhead

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.