Scottish Soil Discussion Group

Scottish Soil Discussion Group

The Scottish Soils Discussion Group was recently re-formed, and is intended to encourage interest and discussion, and to foster ideas and debate in relation to Scottish soils. We aim to provide a forum for people from science, industry and other interest groups to share ideas and discuss problems.  Our activities include the organisation of events and aiding the flow of soil-related information between and within BSSS and other groups.

Group Chair: Dr Matt Aitkenhead (James Hutton Institute) and Dr Sarah Buckingham (Scotland’s Rural College)

Group Secretary: Dr Jennifer Carfrae (Scotland’s Rural College)

Group Treasurer: Dr Nikki Baggerly

Contact SSDG


Latest posts

World Soil Day #soilchat - London pub meet-up on 5 Dec

To celebrate World Soil Day SEESOIL are hosting a London pub meet up for a #soilchat. Do come along to meet others over a drink and we’ll provide the snacks. This is an informal social event to talk about what soil means to us and how we can communicate this on World Soil Day. But essentially you can talk about anything you like! We will be upstairs in the Garden Room of The Somers Town Coffee House The pub is located between Euston and Kings Cross.

Soil stakeholders' conference - 05/12/2016 - Brussels, MCE conference centre

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of Josiane Masson (DG ENVIRONMENT), I would like to provide you with the following information, paraphrased from an email from the European Soil Data Centre:

The European Commission organises a 'Soil stakeholders' conference' in Brussels on 5 December 2016. The event is a contribution of the European Commission to the World Soil Day 2016 aiming at raising awareness on the importance of soils and the ecosystem services that they deliver. It is also part of the implementation of the EU Soil Thematic Strategy.

Hello from the SSDG chair

Dear members of the Scottish Soils Discussion Group,

It's been a long time with no Discussion! Apologies for this. I thought that with the nights drawing in, it would be a good time to get you all fired up and talking about soil. I've been in discussion with Jenny Jones of the Northern Soil Network about co-hosting an event in Newcastle early next year, on the topic of peat soils. It would be good to get your thoughts on this or any other types of meetings that you would like to see happening.

Workshop 16-17 June: soil health, structure and drainage


Soil health, structure and drainage – taught by experts

This workshop provides training on soil examination and management, particularly in relation to water quality and flood risks. It is aimed at
specialists in catchment management, diffuse pollution, natural flood management, field drainage, water quality soil protection and farm inspections.


CREW recently commissioned 3 reports:

Guest speaker at JHI Aberdeen

On Monday 30th May 2016, John Triantafilis from the University of New South Wales will give a talk on Digital Soil Mapping at field and district scale using proximal and remotely sensed data, including EM induction and gamma-ray spectrometry. The talk will be held at 2pm at JHI's Aberdeen site, with videoconferencing to the Dundee site.

SSDG joint meeting with the Scottish Hydrological Group: Land Management for Soil Preservation and Flood Mitigation

Event date: 
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Event venue: 
SRUC King’s Buildings, Edinburgh, Scotland
Event description: 

This will be a joint meeting between the Scottish Soils Discussion Group and the Scottish Hydrological Group. The meeting will consist of speakers and a discussion session, and lunch will be provided.

Speakers will cover topics including land management advice to farmers to maintain soil and reduce flood risk, practicalities of implementing relevant management options, and ongoing research in reducing flood risk through different approaches.

The discussion session will be focussed on practicalities of informing land managers of their options in relation to land management for soil preservation and flood mitigation.


09.30 Arrival and tea/coffee

10.00 Allan Lilly – “A soil scientist’s view of the HOST (Hydrology of Soil Types) classification”

10.30 Mark Wilkinson – “The role of natural flood management in managing flood runoff”

11.00 Tea/coffee

11.30 Mark Aitken – “Improving land management practices to protect soils and reduce diffuse pollution”

12.00 Paul Hallett – “Slumping in the rain – winter soil structure across Scotland and its physical degradation from extreme weather”

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Discussion session with breakout groups

15.00 Tea/coffee

15.30 Final discussion

16.30 Close

Speaker biographies

Allan Lilly

Dr Allan Lilly has over 35 years’ experience in soil survey, land evaluation and soil hydrology. He was co-responsible for the development of the Hydrology of Soil Types (HOST) classification and for the development of European datasets of soil hydrological properties. He has authored or co-authored over 50 peer reviewed papers.

Mark Wilkinson

Mark is a senior catchment hydrologist at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. The primary focus of his work is designing and investigating the impact of natural flood management with the main aim to reduce and attenuate flood peaks. He is also interested in the multi-purpose benefits associated with these measures (such as for water quality) using an integrated catchment management approach, as well as in the barriers to uptake of NFM. Mark is currently coordinating research that will provide scientific evidence to inform the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division on mitigating and adapting to flood risk using NFM and green infrastructure techniques. He has worked on a wide variety of case study examples throughout Scotland and Northern England.

Mark Aitken

Mark has been with SEPA for last 12 years – his current job is Principal Policy Officer and he leads SEPA's policy on on land and soil issues.
Prior to that he worked for 12 years with the Scottish Agricultural College and his final position there was Team Leader and Principal Consultant in Land Management.
Prior to that Mark worked for 6 years with ADAS, Ministry of Agriculture as a Soil Science Advisor.

Paul Hallett

Paul Hallett is Professor of Soil Physics at the University of Aberdeen who studies how soil structure forms and changes over time, particularly in relation to farming practice and soil biology.  This talk will present the results of about 850 field measurements of soil structure taken from 4 catchments across Scotland in winter 2015/2016.  We found about 20% of topsoils and 10 % of subsoils to have extremely poor soil structure, with knock-on impacts to water-logging, runoff and erosion.  Included in the study was a resampling of fields before and after the extreme precipitation in December and January, which we found exacerbated soil structure degradation through prolonged wetting. Soil structure degradation and its impact over winter is certainly an important issue that requires mitigation in some areas and is not adequately considered when examining drainage and flood risk.

Lunch is included.

Registration is free for BSSS members, and £20 for non-members.




SEESOIL Early Career Researcher event - careers in soil science

A careers event at Cranfield University on Thurs 19 May is FREE to attend for BSSS members and is open to all . Hear from experts in different sectors and get tips on effective CVs and interviews. Come along and network!
Please register for the event here as places are limited:
Alex Cooke & Jack Hannam

Root-soil/slope Workshop, 25th May

The Root-soil/slope Workshop & ISRR Medal Lecture in Root Research is a 1-day workshop to be held at the James Hutton Institute's Dundee site on Wednesday 25th May from 9.30 onwards. This year, the ISRR Medal Lecture will be given by Prof. Peter Gregory, with short talks and a poster session on any aspect of root-soil interactions.