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Soils Database

This page is no longer updated. The information presented here formed part of our previous areas of research. This has included research carried out on behalf of our research partners, commerical contracts and also the Scottish Goverment's Strategic research programme during the period 2011 - 2016.

Scottish Goverment LogoWe have left these pages here to provide background information on our previous areas of research. Further details on the RESAS strategic programme of research (2016-21) will be made available.

Further details on why we archive pages can be found on the following page.

What happens to the information recorded in the field by soil surveyors, and the results of all the analysis carried out on the samples they collect? Once it has been collated, it is stored securely so people from all over the world can use it as part of their own work. The James Hutton Institute holds the largest set of soil data and information for Scotland in a relational database.

Over 40,000 samples, from more than 13,000 locations across the country dating back to the 1930s, are stored in a number of tables which allow users to find out information about the site, the individual horizons in the soil profile and all of the samples taken from those horizons. Some samples have more than 1000 individual data items associated with them, from the depth at which it was taken, to its colour, its chemistry, physical properties through to DNA and other molecular analysis.

A subset of the records in the database makes up the National Soils Inventory of Scotland (NSIS). In the 1980s a team of surveyors carried out a systematic survey of the country at 10km intervals. These 723 samples are a key resource in describing the soils of Scotland and provide a baseline for studies into environmental change. From 2007 to 2010, a second phase of surveying was carried out on the 20km sites (NSIS2) to see what changes, if any, had occurred. It also provided the samples for the first national database of soil DNA.


Areas of Interest

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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.