Northern Soil Network

Northern Soil Network

The Northern Soils Network (NSN) originally comprised two Northern Regional Soil Discussion Groups (East and West) but combined forces in recent years to improve the group offering.

Group Chair: Dr Manoj Menon

Deputy Chair: Dr Eleanor Reed

Contact NSN

Latest posts

Last Chance to register for the NSN Event: Soil Resources Evening Seminar on World Soil Day

The BSSS Northern Soils Network invites you to an evening seminar to be held on World Soil Day at Wardell Armstrong Newcastle Office.

Soils are often an underappreciated part of a development, but they are important not only because their intrinsic value but the role they play in the built environment itself.

Working With Soil - An Introduction to Soil Classification

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 to Thursday, May 21, 2020
Event venue: 
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, Scotland
Event description: 

This two day training course - taking place at  The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen  - offers a unique opportunity to build your confidence and precision in characterising and describing the soil beneath your feet, by teaching the general principles of soil classification with a particular focus on the World Reference Base system.

This course is for you if you are:

  • a soil scientist and want to improve or refresh your skills and knowledge of soil classification to help you understand soil processes at a landscape, farm or field plot scale
  • a research student and need to characterise the soils at your research sites and place these in a global context
  • an environmental or planning consultant carrying out Agricultural Land Classification, Environmental Impact Assessment studies or producing Environmental Statements and need a better understanding of the soil information encapsulated in soil classification schemes and soil survey reports and maps.
  • an agronomist, ecologist, biologist, hydrologist or geographer and want to understand the soil information encapsulated in national soil survey publications and maps and its relevance to your specialism.

By the end of this two day course, you will have learnt:

  • how different soil classifications are structured and designed
  • how soil characteristics are used to identify key diagnostic features used in soil classifications.
  • how key diagnostic features relate to soil processes and functions.
  • how to classify a UK soil using the internationally recognized World Reference Base.
  • how national UK soil classifications relate to the World Reference Base as used in the Soil Atlas of Europe and similar publications for Africa and South America

As well as taught sessions, you will go out in the field to work on a range of real soils and will receive a detailed, comprehensive course book.

The course qualifies for CPD points with BASIS (details to follow) so please ensure you have your BASIS account number with you and complete the Record of Attendance on the day.

IMPORTANT: Whilst there are no formal prerequisites for this course you should be familiar with soil profile description (e.g. recognising different soil horizons) and key soil properties (e.g. texture, colour).  

If you are not experienced in the examination and description of soil profiles, you would benefit from attending our one day Exposing and Describing a Soil Profile before attending this course. This will run again in Spring 2020 (date TBC) and future course dates will be listed on Working With Soil.


Please read our booking Terms & Conditions carefully - see below.

Soils In Practice - North

Event date: 
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Event venue: 
McGregor Farms, Coldstream Mains, Coldstream, Berwickshire, TD12 4ES, United Kingdom
Event description: 

Farmers Weekly’s Soils In Practice is returning for two one-day conferences.

Soils in Practice brings together experts and industry professionals from across the UK agricultural sector, providing a platform to discuss the latest advances in boosting soil fertility and best practice in soil management.

The event aims to help farmers understand some of the practical steps that can be taken to measure and promote healthy soil in a sustainable farm setting.

Experts will present interactive theoretical and practical sessions on topics including: measuring soil components, nutrient management and pest mitigation, cover crops, organic matter utilisation and the likely implications of incoming legislation on soil health.


McGregor Farms is a family farming business managed by Colin and Jill McGregor. Colin was given responsibility for the daily running of the business in 1989. The farmed area was 300ha. The business was first approached in 1999 to contract farm 100ha of nearby neighbouring land. This pattern has continued over the last 20 years to today by recommendations and referrals. The majority of agreements have been operation for over 15 years.

McGregor Farms operate a sustainable apporach to farming and the environment. Rotations are agronomically proven, focussed on building fertility and soil health to maximise yield and reduce risk. Optimum crop production results are achieved within a cost-effective system.

Precision Farming

They were early adopters of precision farming initially with yield mapping in 1996. All farmed land is GPS SOYL sampled which has allowed variable applicatinos of phosphate and potash since 1997. Soil organic matter status is routinely measured every four years. Variable line spreading is completed by their own team. Nitrogen has been variably applied since 2007. Soil conductivity maps have been made which allow variable seed rates to be used with excellent results. All mainline equipment hs some form of GPS equipment installed.

To ensure quality of work and timeliness, a considerable investment has been made in the latest plant and machinery. The five main prime movers are on rubber tracks for low ground pressure (2 tractors and 3 combines). Tillage is based on surface cultivations, strip tillage and rotational ploughing.


Winter wheat, winter barly and oilseed rape are the principal crops grown together with spring barley. Spring “break crops” are vining peas, potatoes in collaboration with Greenvale AP and a small area of spring beans.

For full details and to book your ticket.

NSN Event: Soil Resources Evening Seminar

Don't forget to register for the NSN Event: Soil Resources Evening Seminar taking place in Newcastle on World Soil Day - 5th December.

This seminar will be for those working in the planning and construction sectors: design and site managers, earthworks contractors, landscape professionals, and civil engineers, but also to all who are interested in what consulting soil scientists do, and soils in the built environment.