South West England Soil Discussion Group

South West England Soil Discussion Group

The South West England Soils Discussion Group (SWESDiG) was set up in 1975 to stimulate interest in the study of soils in the Region, and provide a means whereby individuals from different institutions and fields of activity can meet to discuss problems and topics of common interest.Membership of the group is free. Meetings are organised on an ad hoc basis on selected themes relevant to the wider study of soils, land use and the environment in the South West.

Group Chair: Dr Martin Blackwell

Group Secretary: Dr Rob Parkinson

Contact SWESDiG

Latest posts

Looking back on January: An Update from Dan

Hello everyone,

It feels like just a few days ago that I sat down and wrote my New Year’s ReSOILutions. However, a month has passed already! There’s already a fine film of dust over the Christmas baubles and though we gaze out onto frosty mornings with dreams of summer, we realize that Spring – that season of hope and renewal – will be around soon enough. I hope you’ve had a wonderful January.

Life in Earth: Soils, the forgotten science in ecology

Event date: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Event venue: 
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton EX20 2SB, UK
Event description: 


This conference, organised by the CIEEM South West England Section Committee in conjunction with The South West Soils Discussion Group (British Society of Soil Science), will look at the broad subject of soils from an ecologist's point of view, and ecology from a soil scientist's point of view. We are privileged to be able to hold the conference at the renowned Rothamsted Research facility at North Wyke, Devon - a world-leading, non-profit research centre that focuses on strategic agricultural and soil sciences.


Soil is fundamental to ecosystems but is often misunderstood or overlooked by ecologists. Soil erosion and other degradation are both a cause and consequence of ecosystem damage, with implications for ecosystem services, biodiversity and agriculture.

We have put together a programme of speakers to help ecologists gain insight into three aspects:

  • appreciating the  functioning of soils , both natural and cultivated, as important components of ecosystems; 
  • understanding and use of soils (natural and manufactured) in mitigation and ecological design (habitat creation, bioengineering, GI, etc); and 
  • the challenges of working with other professions – soil scientists, civil & agricultural engineers, land agents, landscape architects, contractors – to better understand and manage soil resources. 

Most of the speakers are from the South West region and will be presenting a South West perspective on the subject.

Who Should Attend?

This will be relevant to all ecologists involved in assessing ecological resources and potential impacts, mitigation and management of land resources.


BSSS annual meeting on World Soil Day : The 4 per mil initiative

SEESOIL are co-hosting this year's BSSS annual meeting (it is on our patch) on what the ‘4 per 1000’ initiative means for UK soils.
The ‘4 per 1000’ (4 per mil) initiative was launched at the COP21 in 2015, with the aim to slow down the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by annually increasing global soil organic carbon stocks by 0.4 % per year.
This initiative has sparked a mixed reaction to the feasibility of achieving this, and discussion over what this means for soil management.

SWESDG Autumn Meeting 2017 - Soil Structure

Event date: 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Event venue: 
Seavingtons Village Hall, Water St, Seavington, Ilminster, South Somerset TA19 0QH, United Kingdom
Event description: 

The day will focus on the importance of good soil structure and use the Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) methodology in the field.

10am – Arrival and coffee, ready to start by 10:30am

The morning will comprise presentations about soils of the area, VESS methodology and the importance of good soil structure

Lunch will be provided

In the afternoon we will visit Hurcott Farm to use the VESS method in the field

4pm – Depart

Bring sturdy footwear and clothes suitable for an afternoon outside. You may also wish to bring a spade.

BSSS Members may attend the meeting FREE of charge whilst Non Members will be required to pay £10.00.

Please note that everyone attending the meeting will need to register in advance to enable us to accurately organise catering and seating.

ONLINE BOOKING IS NOW CLOSED FOR THIS MEETING. However if you wish to attend please email as soon as possible.

Meet a soil scientist at Open Farm Sunday - members needed!

Meet a soil scientist at Open Farm Sunday!

The Society is looking for members to team up with farmers this year for Open Farm Sunday (OFS) to bring soil science to the farm. OFS is an annual open doors, family friendly event for the general public to find out about food and farming. The event is on Sunday 11 June 2017 and participating farms are listed on the OFS website

Soils and Sustainable Development Goals - 2018 Society Conference

Event date: 
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 to Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Event venue: 
Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, United Kingdom
Event description: 

Soils are crucial for sustainable development, and healthy soils are central to achieving many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2018 Annual Conference of the British Society of Soil Science, taking place at Lancaster University  4th-5th September 2018, will provide an opportunity to focus on these issues.

Keynote speakers, including Dr Cheryl Palm from the University of Florida, will address problems such as Soils and Food Security, Climate Change and Health and Water Quality.

This conference will provide a platform to deliberate and discuss these critical topics.

Throughout the two days there will be opportunities to network with practitioners from diverse organisations, discuss how your research aligns to current SDGs, benefit from hearing differing views and opinions, determine how your research can contribute to the UK Soil SDG aims, and catch up with peers and colleagues. 

Keynote speakers:

The conference opens at 10:30am on Tuesday 4th September and closes at 2:30pm* on Wednesday 5th September. 

*Early Career Researchers please note: After the conference, there will be a special ECR Campus Challenge: a chance to make new friends, catch up with colleagues, and compete in some team games! This event is FREE to all PhD students and PostDocs and will finish by 16:00. More details will be provided in due course, but for any questions you may have now, don't hesitate to email Dan Evans on                              

Join us for a stimulating conference and debate!

Draft programme available below



Single, en-suite accommodation is available on-campus and the Society has secured a special discounted rate of £42 per night including breakfast.

Rooms must be booked online and paid at time of booking.

Enter the dates and number of nights you require but leave the 'Area' box as 'Any Location'. In the 'Promotion Code' box type SOIL18 to receive the discounted rate

Please note that rooms are subject to availability so early booking is advised.


Event flyer: