Great Britain mainland is a small island lying within a narrow latitude range of about 50o – 60o North and covering less than 0.2% of the earth’s land surface, yet the diversity of soil forming factors operating across this small area, has meant that 60% (19) of the 32 global Reference Soil Groups recognized by the International Union of Soil Sciences / FAO World Reference Base can be found here.

In keeping with the Congress theme, ‘Soil Science – crossing boundaries, changing society’, our tours programme is entitled ‘Small Island, Diverse soils, Big opportunities - Connecting people & soils’. Its overall objective is to demonstrate just some of this diversity whilst focusing on the ability of local soils to sustain a variety of soil functions beneficial to society.

The various tours proposed will each provide examples of how soil scientists are working with local land managers, environmental, government and educational organisations to demonstrate the benefits provided by local soil types when they are managed to maximise their functional potential and minimise their limitations. At this time all tours are dependant on local restrictions and attendee interest.

We will be launching registration for the tours in the autumn/ fall of 2021, in the meantime you can register your interest, or ask us any questions, on

1. Pre- Congress Tour – Britain South to North

The objective of this 6-day tour is to highlight just some of the diversity in Great Britain’s mainland, whilst focussing on the ability of the local soils to sustain a variety of soil functions beneficial to society. Leaving from London, and weaving across the country before ending in Glasgow, this tour will visit 12 sites and view 19 soil exposures or sections, including varying forms of: Luvisols, Arenosols, Histosols, Stagnosols, Planosols, Cambisols, Phaeozems, Podzols, and Umbrisols.Themes to be discussed at the sites include:

  • The ‘classic’; long term experiments at Rothamsted Research and their implications for resilience of the local soils
  • Fen peatlands in an area with regional drainage schemes: an unsustainable soil resource?
  • Managing local agricultural soils to minimise soil structural problems and reduce the impact of agrochemical losses and rapid rainfall-runoff responses on local surface waters
  • The impact on soil and atmospheric emissions from enhanced CO2 levels in mature deciduous woodlands: A 10 year experimental monitoring project, unique in the northern hemisphere
  • Managing local soils to support a Community-owned organic farm
  • Management and conservation issues in the Tinto Hills, one of the best areas of active stone stripes in Scotland.

Tour leader: Mr John Hollis

Now retired, John had 18 years soil surveying experience with the Soil Survey of England and Wales, eventually assuming national responsibility for soil classification and correlation. Although this remained within his remit, following the Soil Survey’s move to Cranfield University and formation of the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI), he specialised in soil hydrology and pollutant transfer and was part of the extended core group that developed the World Reference Base for Soil Resources.

2. Glasgow Tour - Impact of the city’s Industrial Legacy, Urban Regeneration and Greening

This tour will focus on the Clyde Gateway project in Glasgow, which aims to build on the legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, in an area with a long history of industrial activity and subsequent stagnation. The Cuningar loop, which was an open coalmine and sand quarry, has been regenerated as an urban park as part of the legacy. There will also be a chance to visit the NERC shallow geothermal facility on site. Shawfield was, at its peak, the world’s largest Cr-works and the comprehensive and extensive remediation work now being carried out will be reviewed. Wider issues of the sustainable use of urban and greening will be explored through a visit to the Hamilton Hill clay pit restoration project and its soil profile, and the Canal and North Gateway project.

Tour leaders: Dr Paul Everett  (BGS)  and  Prof. Margaret Graham (Geoscience, Edinburgh University)

Paul is an environmental Geochemist with extensive experience of the Glasgow soils. Margaret is a chair in Environmental Geochemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

3. Stirling tour - Changing Environment: A Historical and Modern Perspective on Soil Use & Management along the Carse of Stirling

This tour will look at soil development, use and management in and around the Carse of Stirling, an area subject to significant environmental changes over the last 8,000 years that has culminated in the installation of comprehensive drainage systems to create to the more fertile farmland that we see today. Profiles in this land will be seen at Stirling University soil teaching pits where free-draining brown earths (Cambisols) and seasonally waterlogged Gleyic soils are exposed in raised beach deposits and adjacent reddish glacial drift derived from Devonian sandstones. In recent times, peat was also drained to facilitate commercial peat extraction and forest plantations. Despite this extensive reworking of the landscape, the remains of peat bog domes around Flanders Moss are one of the most extensive intact raised bog sites in Europe with peat depth reaching over 7 metres in places. The National Nature Reserve and adjacent Forest Research site here will be visited showing restoration work to enhance biodiversity and increase carbon sequestration illustrating the changing value of peatland from a ‘waste’ to vital carbon sink.

Tour leaders: Dr Paul Adderley (University of Stirling) / Patricia Bruneau (NatureScot ) with contributions from Forest Research

Paul is a soil science lecturer at the University of Stirling with interests in geoarchaeology and environmental history and Patricia is a soil science specialist with NatureScot, Scotland’s Nature Agency.

4. Isle of Arran tour

This full day excursion will visit the Isle of Arran focusing on the relationship between its landscape, geology and soils. The circular tour provides superb views of the changing coastline and dramatic mountains of this scenic island and includes a visit to the local Lagg Whisky Distillery. Soil aspects of the tour include a focus on the small-scale variation between raised bog (Histosols), Peaty (Histic) Gleysols and peaty (Histic) Podzols, and contrasting cultivated and uncultivated Stagnosols.

Tour leader: Richard Hewison

Plant Ecologist, Soil Surveyor and Landscape Historian at the James Hutton Institute. Richard has been involved in soil survey in Scotland for around 10 years.

5. Boghall Glen tour. A tour to Boghall Glen on the Bush Estate

This tour will visit the Bush estate in the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh. These Hills, composed primarily of igneous rocks, have an elevation of between 200-600 metres. The area was glaciated during the last ice age, and the soils that have formed there since the retreat of the ice (about 10,000 years ago) are strongly influenced by this feature of their history. Bush Estate hosts work by both the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and exemplifies the local complex patterns of Stagnosols, Cambisols and Podzols that occur in this upland area of south Scotland. All three soil types will be shown. The journey back to Glasgow takes in Castle Law, providing a panorama of the agricultural landscape of the Midlothians from the hills to the coast and, following a visit to Roslin Chapel, demonstrates the increasing encroachment of urban sprawl sealing off fertile agricultural land.

Tour leaders : Ute Skiba (CEH), Bob Rees (SRUC).

6. Post- Congress Tour – North Scotland

North Scotland: (Saturday August 6th to Tuesday August 9th, 2022. 4 days, 7 locations, 11 soil types). The tour will examine the soils, landscape and both past and future land use in Northern Scotland and will visit some iconic cultural landscapes such as Glencoe, Loch Ness, the world-class landscape of the UNESCO North West Highlands Geopark. On the return leg we will view the Cairngorm mountain plateau, visit ancient Caledonian pinewood, travel through Speyside to the east coast where we will visit the James Hutton Institute’s Climate positive farm at Glensaugh to examine how changes in land management are being developed to reduce the GHG emissions. We will then travel through the Howe of the Mearns through a landscape of red soils to the Hutton’s Balruddery Research Platform and the Centre for Sustainable Cropping near Dundee.

Tour leaders: Ness Kirkbride (Quaternary Geomorphologist and Geo-conservationist, at NatureScot (Scotland’s Nature Agency); Patricia Bruneau (Soil Scientist at NatureScot with experience in soil monitoring and sustainable use of soils) and Allan Lilly (former soil surveyor and biophysical resource analyst)

7. Post- Congress Tour – Soil, Geomorphology and Landuse of Galloway
[Scotland in Microcosm]

This excursion will feature the rocks, quaternary glaciation, Holocene deposition and Anthropocene changes and their impact on the soils in the southern uplands of Scotland and on the Irish sea coast - a microcosm from the mountains to the sea. The theme is sustainability of agriculture and soils in the region; and the tension between agriculture and bio- and geodiversity. The current land use and agricultural products and practices and anthropic land use evolution will be highlighted and discussed. The tour will visit the SRUC Crichton Royal farm where we will compare soil compaction and underlying soil structure under different soil types and management practices before moving on to the Cainsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve, the Machars of Wigtownshire and taking in world famous golf links. We will view a wide range of soil developed on various soil parent materials from estuarine silts and clays, raised beach gravels, blown sands and glacial deposits.

© 2021 - The World Congress of Soil Science 2022 is a limited company, registered in England and Wales 12994006 and a Registered Charity No. 1192796
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