Land Information System

Welcome to the LandIS Soil Portal

UK Soils Observatory

A cross-institutional window onto the soils of the UK

 

Cranfield University's National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) is pleased to be part of an exciting new initiative to draw together institutions from across the UK who have an interest in soil and soil-related matters. This is manifested in the publication of a UK Soil Observatory (UKSO) online web portal. This portal presents national and regional soil cartographic mapping and data, and soil monitoring resources, plus other materials and resources suited to general soil education and awareness. The portal incorporates information from a number of institutions: in Scotland the James Hutton Institute (JHI) have presented a selection of their data, in Northern Ireland the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will represent some of their own soils data, and in England the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) will place examples of their data on the portal. Other institutions such as the Rothamsted Research Station are presenting information relating to their own long-term soil experiments. It is hoped that over time other institutions will also place examples of their own soils information into the portal.

Cranfield University will place a number of key soil data themes from the Land Information System into the portal - these include the popular and well-used 'Soilscapes' dataset, an expression of the FAO soil 'World Reference Base' (WRB) and examples of soil function maps - such as Cadmium metal binding, as well as thematic, soil-related ecological assessments - for example the habitat map for climax native woodland.

Cranfield have placed a number of the popular and representative soil and soil-related datasets from LandIS into the UKSO to exemplify the range of data we hold, and hopefully to draw to the attention of a range of interested parties the importance of soils. The following provides a short summary of the datasets placed into the Observatory

Soil themes provided to the Observatory from LandIS

Data theme

Description

Soilscapes for England and Wales

Soilscapes is a 1:250,000 scale, simplified soils dataset covering England and Wales. It was created from the far more detailed National Soil Map (NATMAP Vector) held by the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) at Cranfield University, with the purpose of communicating a general understanding of the variations which occur between soil types, and how soils affect the environment and landscape of the two countries. Soil exerts a strong influence on our whole ecosystem, being the foundation for many of the ecosystem services and functions, and is a fragile resource that needs to be understood and protected.

Soil Map for England and Wales - World Reference Base 2006 Tier 1 Version

The World Reference Base map shows the locations of the 13 Reference Soil Groups recognised in England and Wales. It is derived from the National Soil Map at 1:250,000 scale for England and Wales, held by the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) at Cranfield University. The dominant soil series in each soil association has been correlated to the equivalent Tier 1 Reference Soil Group in the World Reference Base classification system of 2006 as defined in World Soil Resources Report No. 103 (Link).

The WRB map classes are explained in detail here

Native Woodland Model

An understanding of the potential of different areas within a landscape to support different woodland types is crucial to planning the restoration and expansion of native woodland. The Native Woodland Model has been developed as a strategic tool to aid those involved in such projects, whether on currently unwooded land or in non-native forest plantations. It is suitable for use at scales above 1:50,000.

The methodology relies on the interpretation of integrated soils and land cover data in relation to the growth requirements of different woodland types. Combinations of these attributes are assessed and an optimal native woodland type is assigned to each combination. This is a very pragmatic model and uses major soil subgroup and geology (effectively soil series in a Scottish context), rather than specific attributes and thresholds. This is then qualified by land cover which has been used to assess how the soil may or may not have been modified by human intervention. The approach might best be described as ‘map unit interpretation’, qualified by knowledge of current land cover (from LCS88, although LCM2000 is equally valid and possibly more so because of its currency).

References

Towers, W., Hall J., Hester, A. Malcom, A. and Stone, D. (2004) The potential for native woodland in Scotland: the native woodland model. Scottish Natural Heritage

Towers, W., Hester, A.J., Malcolm, A., Stone, D. and Gray, H. (2002) The use of soils data in natural heritage planning and management. Soil Use and Management, 18, 26-33.

Hester, A.J., Towers, W. and Malcolm, A. (2003) Modelling the potential distribution of woodland at the landscape scale. In: The restoration of wooded landscapes (Eds. J. Humphrey, A. Newton, J. Latham, H. Gray, K. Kirby. E. Poulson and C. Quine). Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Towers, W., Hester, A.J., Malcolm, A., Hall, J. and Stone, D. (2004) The potential for native woodland in Scotland: the native woodland model. Scottish Natural Heritage, Battleby, Perth. Natural Heritage Management Series. 56p. Includes CD ROM. ISBN 1 85397 390 4

Cadmium Sesquioxide Metal Binding Capacity

The objective of the model is to assess the metal binding capacity of different soils for different metals and is based on the approach from Blume and Brummer (1991). The methodology is based on a weighted parametric classification and consists of a series of look-up tables that allows the user to ‘score’ a number of soil attributes and to ultimately arrive at a total score. This total score is then translated into a textual description of relative binding class; six classes have been identified ranging from very strong to no binding capacity.

References

Blume, H.P. and Brümmer, G. (1991) Prediction of heavy metal behaviour in soil by means of simple field tests, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 22, pp. 164-174.

Paterson, E, Towers, W, Lumsdon, DG and Meeussen, JC (1997) Responses of Scottish soils to heavy metal inputs. Scottish Natural Heritage Review No 61, SNH Edinburgh.

Towers, W. and Paterson, E. (1997) Sewage sludge application to land - a preliminary assessment of the sensitivity of Scottish soils to heavy metal inputs. Soil Use and Management, 13(3), 149-155.

Topsoil Carbon Stock

The database gives soil organic carbon, sand, silt and clay contents and bulk density weighted to reference layers from 0 to 30 cm and from 30 to 100 cm depths. The data are interpolated from information on soil types and land use on a 1 km grid across the UK and are used to estimate soil carbon stocks. The objective of this research was to derive high-resolution spatial data on soil and land-use data for use by dynamic simulation model of carbon fluxes from soils resulting from land-use change.

The Soil Spatial Distribution was based on the revised 1:250,000 national soil map for England and Wales, the 1:250,000 national soil map for Scotland and the 1:50,000 soil series map for Northern Ireland. Soil profile information were derived from the Soil Reference database and the National Soil Inventory for England and Wales, the Scottish soil database and the attribute database of all soil horizons at a 5km inspection pits sampled as part of the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development soil survey.

References

Bradley, R.I., Milne, R., Bell, J., Lilly, A., Jordan, C. and Higgins, A. (2005) A soil carbon and land use database for the United Kingdom. Soil Use and Management 21:363-369.

NSRI Detailed Soil Mapping

This map shows the extents of the detailed soil mapping available for a variety of scales from NSRI Cranfield. These maps were conducted over three principle time periods.

From 1939 to 1966, mapping was carried out at a scale of 1:63,360 (1” to 1 mile). The areas mapped being selected to represent typical landscape types, soil problems, complexity of soil pattern and land use. Some 10% of England and Wales is mapped at this scale. Each map sheet covers 663 km² and 25 of these sheets have been published.

Between 1966 and 1979, mapping was carried out at 1:25,000. More than 100 of these maps have been published together with accompanying books. The distribution of the areas selected corresponds with the Ordnance Survey 10x10km 1:25,000 series. Mapping at this scale relates soil type to individual fields depicted on the base map. The choice of mapped areas was based on pedological, geomorphological and scientific agricultural interest, representing wider districts with similar environments.

The period 1983 to 1985 resulted in the publication of five 1:50,000 maps, each of 1,600 km². The mapping procedures were similar to those used for previous local mapping. However, average density of observations was reduced proportionally. These maps were published with accompanying descriptive memoirs.

Soil map for Northern Ireland

Further to the data provided from LandIS to the Observatory, Cranfield are also pleased to support the work of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Belfast, and are hosting the Soil Map for Northern Ireland in World Reference Base (WRB) 2006 Tier 1 form, as follows.

Soil Map for Northern Ireland - World Reference Base (WRB) 2006 Tier 1 Version

The World Reference Base map shows the locations of the 9 Reference Soil Groups recognised in Northern Ireland. It is derived from the General Soil Map of Northern Ireland at 1:250,000 scale, held by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). The dominant soil series in each soil group has been correlated to the equivalent Tier 1 Reference Soil Group in the World Reference Base classification system of 2006 as defined in World Soil Resources Report No. 103 (Link).

For more information on the classification of soils in Northern Ireland refer to the book, ‘Soil and Environment: Northern Ireland’, (http://www.afbini.gov.uk/index/services/services-specialist-advice/soils-environment.htm ) or the WRB guide (Link).

The WRB map classes are explained in detail here

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