Farmers benefit from free online data focusing on UK soils

The data can reveal extraordinary details about soils including its type, texture and grain size as well as physical, chemical and biological properties
The data can reveal extraordinary details about soils including its type, texture and grain size as well as physical, chemical and biological properties

Farmers and the wider agricultural sector are benefiting from free, online data focusing on the UK's soils.

Scientists have found that the data can help farmers and agronomists to identify key facts and critical characteristics about soils.

This could in turn help the industry to make savings and better investments in future management practices.

The UK Soils Observatory (UKSO) is a free-to-use archive from nine scientific institutions including the British Geological Survey (BGS).



The online tool allows practitioners to access comprehensive soil datasets and maps.

By making soils information widely accessible, UKSO is designed to help advance scientific understanding and inform business for a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.



Since it was launched in 2010, the tool has benefited from over 180 layers of data which can reveal extraordinary details about soils including its type, texture and grain size as well as physical, chemical and biological properties.

Users are even encouraged to share observations about their own soils using the UKSO Map Viewer and this crowd-sourced data enables the observatory to continue improving the soil information.

Scientists have found the tool is having increasing benefits for people working in the arable sector and the agri-technology sector in particular.

Russell Lawley from the British Geological Survey, said: “For practitioners, UKSO is all about making data more readily available so that they can understand more about soils and environment across the UK, not just in their ‘home patch’.

“The growth in agri-technology means that more people can access and use free digital data than ever before.”

Understanding more about soils helps agronomists and farmers to maximise their sustainable use, as well as identify where they may be vulnerable to risks like flooding and erosion.

Scientists have discovered that agronomists are using it to improve their own services to farmers who want to look at alternative management options for their land or consider how to work, or manage soils in areas that they are not familiar with.