Community soil property observations

Select an option from the list below to view high resolution images and data about soils across Great Britain.

Users of the UK Soil Observatory and the mySoil mobile app are engaging in citizen science to build up a community soils dataset. They are crowdsourcing information about the soil properties in their area, sending photographs and measurements to gather vital new information on soil science and helping to improve soil maps of the UK.

Users can provide details of their own soil, indicating their location (via a number of possible methods), send a photograph, provide a description, and send details of soil texture and pH. It is hoped that these crowdsourced records can be used to validate and improve our own data holdings and lead to the creation of new community data products.

So far, over 2000 soil property contributions have been received from this growing community of citizen soil scientists. This citizen science dataset focuses on the United Kingdom, though contains additional observations from across Europe and the rest of the world.

It is hoped that these crowdsourced records can be used to validate and improve our own data holdings and lead to the creation of new community data products.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.The following acknowledgement must accompany the reproduced UKSO materials: "Contains UK Soil Observatory materials © [2014]".

Traditionally, soil scientists use several field and laboratory-based techniques to identify soil texture including sieving, sedimentation and laser granulometry. There are international standards for describing soil textures in terms of their clay, silt and sand content. This community dataset is based on some simple tips that help identify soil in to six classes:

  • Chalky soil can be clayey or sandy, but is notable for the many fragments chalk or limestone that it contains. If testing for pH, chalky soils tend to be alkaline with moderately high pH (8+)
  • Sandy soil feels gritty to touch, it will not hold its shape when squeezed into a ball because it crumbles easily making it is easy to dig and work. It drains very well and can dry out quickly
  • Loamy soil is often the preferred soil type. It is made up of a roughly equally mixture of clay, silt and sand. Loamy soils hold together when squeezed into a ball. they do not feel sticky or gritty. They are easily dug, retain moisture and are nutrient rich
  • Silty soil feels smooth to the touch, but not sticky and can be rolled or molded into a thin sausage-shape easily
  • Clay soil feels smooth and sticky to the touch. It can be molded into any shape and leaves smears of clay when rubbed between your fingers. Very heavy to dig and work, clayey soils can dry out in hot weather and form deep cracks
  • Peaty soil contains a lot of organic matter and is very dark in colour. It feels spongy when squeezed but crunbles apart. It can absorb a lot of water but dry out quite quickly. If you have a pH testing kit it will have a low pH (acidic)

It is hoped that these crowdsourced records can be used to validate and improve our own data holdings and lead to the creation of new community data products.

Carbon stock at 0-5cm soil depth map
Title Community soil texture observations
Source UKSO and mySoil user community
Enquiries enquiries@bgs.ac.uk
Scale(s) Point data
Coverage Great Britain (with some European and worldwide data)
Format GIS spatial point data
Price Data is free for none commercial purpose via the mySoil app
Uses Local to national level use (with some European and worldwide data)
Map Viewer View in UKSO Map Viewer
WMS link https://map.bgs.ac.uk/...
Images High resolution | low resolution

Testing the pH of your soil is fairly easy to do. It does require a simple kit that you can buy from hardware stores or garden centres. Each kit will come with its own instructions that will guide you through the process of sampling and testing.

Your testing kit will tell you a pH on a scale from 1 (very strongly acidic) to 14 (very strongly alkaline). Most soils fall in the pH range 3 to 9. Choose the closest value from our pH ranges that matches the value shown by your kit.

Carbon stock at 0-5cm soil depth map
Title Community soil pH observations
Source UKSO and mySoil user community
Enquiries enquiries@bgs.ac.uk
Scale(s) Point data
Coverage Great Britain (with some European and worldwide data)
Format GIS spatial point data
Price Data is free for none commercial purpose via the mySoil app
Uses Local to national level use (with some European and worldwide data)
Map Viewer View in UKSO Map Viewer
WMS link https://map.bgs.ac.uk/...
Images High resolution | low resolution

Points on the map indicate locations where photographs have been taken. Links through to access the photographs are provided.

Carbon stock at 0-5cm soil depth map
Title Community soil photographs
Source UKSO and mySoil user community
Enquiries enquiries@bgs.ac.uk
Scale(s) Point data
Coverage Great Britain (with some European and worldwide data)
Format GIS spatial point data
Price Data is free for none commercial purpose via the mySoil app
Uses Local to national level use (with some European and worldwide data)
Map Viewer View in UKSO Map Viewer
WMS link https://map.bgs.ac.uk/...
Images High resolution | low resolution