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Summary

Three main types of soil maps are available on this website, as well as point data relating to specific locations where soils have been sampled and analysed for a range of properties.

  • Soil maps show the distribution of soils across the land. Soil maps were originally produced by field surveyors who walked over the landscape, looking at the soils and other features such as vegetation, and drew boundaries between different soil types. Mapping methods have evolved over time, and now use techniques such as aerial photography and satellite-based Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
  • Capability maps classify land based on the potential for what it could grow and how well it could grow it. These take into account soils, climate and landscape. Capability maps are available for both agriculture and forestry.
  • Thematic maps show the distribution of a specific soil property such as soil organic matter content.
  • Point data are data that relate to soils at a specific location. At these points, soils have been described, sampled and later analysed for a range of properties. The point data maps show where the soils were sampled and selected properties of interest.

Soil maps

National soil map of Scotland

This map shows the distribution of the main soil types across the whole of Scotland. It was originally mapped at the 1: 250 000 scale.

Soil map of Scotland (partial cover)

This map covers most of Scotland’s cultivated agricultural soils and adjacent uplands. It was originally mapped at the 1: 25 000 scale and shows more detail than the National soil map of Scotland.

World Reference Base soil map

The World Reference Base soil map uses an international soil classification based on soil characteristics, properties and horizons (layers).

Scanned soil maps

National soil map of Scotland

Scanned copies of the original seven 1:250 000 Soil Survey of Scotland maps were made available to celebrate World Soils Day (5 December 2014) at the start of the International Year of Soils, 2015. These were the original paper maps used to generate the digitised National soil map of Scotland.

Soil map of Scotland (partial cover)

The 1:63 360 soil maps, which cover the better agricultural areas of Scotland, have been scanned and can be viewed on the National Library of Scotland website.

Capability maps

National scale land capability for agriculture

The national scale land capability for agriculture map provides information on the types of crops that may be grown in different areas dependent on environmental and soil characteristics.

Land capability for agriculture (partial cover)

The land capability map for agriculture (partial cover) provides information at a greater resolution than the national map on the types of crops that may be grown in different areas dependent on the environmental and soil characteristics.

National scale land capability for forestry

The national scale land capability for forestry map provides information on how well a piece of land could grow trees based on a number of factors including soil, climate and topography.

Thematic map

Map of topsoil organic carbon concentration

The map shows the soil carbon concentration in the surface layer of soil.

Map of available water capacity

Available water capacity is the amount water a soil can provide for plants and so is a useful indicator of the ability of soils to grow crops.

Map of soil texture in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones

Soil texture in Nitrate Vulnerable Zones provides information to help understand what management practices can be performed, and when, within Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs).

Carbon and peatland 2016 map

The map shows the distribution of carbon and peatland classes across the whole of Scotland. It gives a value to indicate the likely presence of carbon-rich soils, deep peat and priority peatland habitat for each individually-mapped area, at a coarse scale.

Point data

National Soil Inventory of Scotland (NSIS 1978-88)

This map shows the sampling locations of the National Soil Inventory of Scotland, classified by the soil type found at each location.

Parent material

This map shows the soil parent material found at each National Soil Inventory of Scotland sampling location. This is the material that the soil was made from.

Topsoil lead (Pb) concentration

This map shows the location of each National Soil Inventory of Scotland sampling point. The colour of the symbol relates to the lead concentration of the topsoil found at that point (in parts per million of air-dried soil).

Topsoil zinc (Zn) concentration

This map shows the location of each National Soil Inventory of Scotland sampling point. The colour of the symbol relates to the zinc concentration of the topsoil found at that point (in parts per million of air-dried soil).