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 Sarah Buckingham (Scotland’s Rural College)

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

Group Treasurer: Dr Nikki Baggerly

Contact SSDG


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.

SSDG Event: “Soil research in Scotland – where we are – where we are going – planning for SSWG 2022 tours”

Don't forget to register for the “Soil research in Scotland – where we are – where we are going – planning for SSWG 2022 tours” meeting, taking place on 26th November in Edinburgh. 

The meeting will discuss current issues and future direction in soil research and discuss opportunity to showcase key area of work at the World Congress of Soil Science in August 2022 in Glasgow SECC.

ERROR! SSDG Event: “Soil research in Scotland – where we are – where we are going – planning for SSWG 2022 tours”

Sincere apologies - not only had the location and date of the SSDG meeting changed but also the title and content, which I somehow missed.

The correct title of the meeting is “Soil research in Scotland – where we are – where we are going – planning for SSWG 2022 tours” taking place on Tuesday 26th November at Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

Please see the website for full details of the updated meeting content, timings and registration. 

Change of date and venue! SSDG Event: Promoting Scottish Soils at the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) Glasgow 2022

Please note that the SSDG meeting Promoting Scottish Soils at the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) Glasgow 2022 is now taking place on Tuesday 26 November at Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh.

Please don't forget to register if you are planning to attend in order that we can accurately plan seating and catering.

SSDG Event: “Soil research in Scotland – where we are – where we are going – planning for SSWG 2022 tours”

Event date: 
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Event venue: 
Room 9, Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Event description: 

The Scottish Soils Discussion Group is hosting a meeting to discuss current issues and future direction in soil research and discuss opportunity to showcase key area of work at the World Congress of Soil Science in August 2022 in Glasgow SECC.

Sandra Marks will provide an overview of soil research strengths and deliverables under current Government programmes. The WCSS-Tours organising committee (Patricia Bruneau, John Hollis, Alex Cooke, Ute Skiba & Allan Lilly) will highlight the main theme of the WCSS and outline opportunities for engagement for all level of expertise.

The focus of this event will be on practical demonstration of soil values across Scotland as part of the proposed WCSS conference tours, but other elements of the congress will also be introduced.

Understand where the soil science research and policy community priorities converge in Scotland is an important element to ensure that we can show case the best of what we are doing and provide a long lasting legacy of interesting case study thereafter.

The day will begin at 10:00am with coffee, and is scheduled to close at 4:00pm.

The objectives of this meeting are:

*  To gather information on novel soil science that can be showcased at WCSS

*  To discuss options for fieldtrips for congress delegates

              -  Where? Would it be of interest to an international soil science community?  How accessible is it? Travel requirements, capacity/number of people, expense/costs to consider, catering available/needed

              -  Who? Tour leaders needed, are specific ‘experts’ required?

*  To provide a forum for people in different organisations to get involved in WCSS activities and discuss ongoing and future planning.   



* Everyone attending needs to register to enable us to make the necessary arrangements.

Event flyer: