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

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.   


Registration Fee (includes lunch):               

  • FREE for BSSS Members
  • £10 for Non-BSSS Members 



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

Event flyer: 

June 2019: An Update from Dan

I am writing this on one of those days when the skies decide to ‘spring clean’ the Earth. Strong gusts are vacuuming the dust from the country lanes that run like skirting boards around green carpets of cropland and pasture. Clouds unite to form impenetrable ceilings of lead from which millions of droplets are preparing to polish the rooftops. As I write, my train carriage window is becoming freckled with a shimmering galaxy of watery stars. Is there anything more inspiring than a clouded day?

Agricultural Land Classification Course 2019

Event date: 
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 to Thursday, November 21, 2019
Event venue: 
Arden Hotel, Coventry Road, Bickenhill, Solihull B92 0EH, United Kingdom
Event description: 

Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) has a formal role in the planning system in England and Wales and is designed to prevent the loss of our best and most versatile land in line with the principles of sustainable development.

This training course, designed and presented by agricultural land classification (ALC) experts from Natural England and the Welsh Government, offers a unique opportunity to learn about the background and technical basis of the current ALC guidelines.

By the end of the two day course you will learn:

  • about how the ALC system has developed over time, its underlying principles and its role within the planning system - the WHAT, WHY and WHEN of ALC
  • all the details of how land is graded - the HOW of ALC
  • what a report should contain in order to be verified by the Natural England and Welsh Government statutory consultees on planning applications involving soils and agriculture
  • how to present ALC results as an expert witness

As well as taught sessions, you will carry out a group ALC grading desk exercise to apply what you have learned.

The course is designed for:

  • soil scientists who wish to extend their experience to (or refresh an existing awareness of) Agricultural Land Classification,
  • those commissioning ALC surveys from specialists, and
  • planners reviewing ALC reports.

Completion of the course is not a certificate of competence to undertake ALC surveys.  Competence in undertaking ALC surveys, as described in Working with Soil Document 2 (below), will require subsequent relevant survey experience. 

For non soil specialists, prior or subsequent attendance on Working with Soil course Exposing and Describing a Soil Profile or an equivalent course, is strongly recommended to enable you to get the most out of this course.

The two-day ALC course will take place at The Arden Hotel in Solihull, close to the NEC. Please note overnight accommodation is not included.

This course qualifies for CPD points for professional practice schemes. BASIS CPD has been awarded at a total of 10 points (6 Environment + 4 Personal Development)


Please read our Event Cancellation Policy carefully - see below.


VOCs in soil: investigation to remediation - 18th February 2019 Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

With a new British Standard ‘Taking soil samples for determination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — Specification’ scheduled for publication in 2019, BSSS and IES have decided to organise an informal half day event to discuss VOCs in soil in the context of contaminated land investigation and remediation.

The event will be free to members of both societies with industry and regulator speakers giving their perspectives on the topic and providing a platform for discussion and networking.

ECR Conference 2019

We are delighted to invite all BSSS Early Career Members to the 2019 ECR Conference which will be held at The Edge, University of Sheffield on 16th-17th April 2019. Registration is now open! The deadline to register is 27th January 2019.