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The James Hutton Institute supports professional competency initiative for soil scientists

Photograph showing a cross-section of soil
As professional soil scientists we welcome the launch of this scheme and hope that Government and industry commission work on the use and management of soil from appropriately qualified and experienced soil scientists.

A professional competency scheme for practising soil scientists has been launched today (Thursday 21 July) which aims to improve the quality of professional soils advice.

Working with Soil, devised by the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists (IPSS), identifies minimum qualifications, skills and knowledge for soils scientists carrying out a range of key tasks and aims to become established as the standard for identifying competent scientists working in the field of soil science. 

Launching the initiative, IPSS Chair Dr Bruce Lascelles said, “Soil is the very foundation of life; destroy it and we won’t survive. Yet the numbers of young scientists choosing to study soil science is dwindling to the extent that it can no longer be studied at degree level in the UK. We must make it a more attractive career option.”

“Our Working with Soil professional competency scheme is designed to place value in achieving the qualifications and skills required to advise professionally on the management of soil for a variety of outcomes. As the scheme develops and becomes embedded in research and consultancy practice it will, we hope, help define a number of career paths in professional soil science.”

The James Hutton Institute is one of 50 organisations which have signed up to support the Working with Soils scheme. The Institute, which was formed earlier this year by uniting the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, an internationally renowned centre for soils research, and SCRI (Scottish Crop Research Institute) based in Dundee, now boasts combined strengths in crops, soils, land use and environmental research and aims to make major, new contributions to the understanding of key global issues such as food, energy and environmental security which all have a basis in modern soil research.

Dr Jason Owen, James Hutton Institute soil scientist and IPSS council member, said, “Soil is a vital resource to societies worldwide. It provides timber, fibre and food crops; stores and filters water; regulates waste and pollutants and sustains an essential soil biota. Understanding how soils carry out these functions is imperative if we are to maintain soil quality to meet the needs of society and help inform the development of management techniques capable of maintaining and improving the condition of soil for current and future needs. As professional soil scientists we welcome the launch of this scheme and hope that Government and industry commission work on the use and management of soil from appropriately qualified and experienced soil scientists.”

The James Hutton Institute also holds and maintains The National Soil Archive which consists of representative soil samples from all over Scotland and includes more than 43,000 air dried soil samples from 1,300 locations with samples collected from 1934 to the present day. The archived materials are used in research to examine changes to soil composition over time and how this may relate to climate change, presence of pollutants and shifts in agricultural practices.


Further information:

The Institute of Professional Soil Scientists (IPSS), is the professional body of The British Society of Soil Science, a membership organisation and charity whose mission is to advance the study of soil and to promote a better understanding of soil, nationally and internationally".

This will be achieved through

  • Promoting the understanding, relevance and use of soil science and the dissemination of research findings
  • Enhancing soil education and developing soil scientists
  • Supporting standards of practice

A list of the supporting organisations signed up to support the “Working with Soils” initiative is available at

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/james-hutton-institute-supports-professional-competency-initiative-soil-scientists on 07/12/21 08:53:56 PM

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.