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Find out about the key characteristics of the main soil types in Scotland. More detailed information can be found in the Scottish soil classification.

 

Lithosols

Lithosols are shallow soils with rock less than 10 cm from the surface. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes four sub-groups

1.1.1 Rock
1.1.2 Brown lithosols
1.1.3 Humic lithosols
1.1.4 Peaty lithosols

 

Rankers

Rankers are shallow soils more than 10 cm thick with rock near the surface. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes six sub-groups

1.2.1 Magnesian rankers
1.2.2 Brown rankers
1.2.3 Podzolic rankers
1.2.4 Gley rankers
1.2.5 Humic rankers
1.2.6 Peaty rankers

 

Regosols

Regosols are well drained, poorly developed soils often with a mineral topsoil and no distinct layering in the subsoil. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes four sub-groups

1.3.1 Scree
1.3.2 Shingle
1.3.3 Calcareous regosols
1.3.4 Noncalcareous regosols

 

Alluvial soils

Alluvial soils are developed in recent river, estuary or marine deposits. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes three sub-groups

1.4.1 Saline alluvial soils
1.4.2 Mineral alluvial soils
1.4.3 Peaty alluvial soils

 

Rendzinas

Rendzinas are shallow calcareous soils (rich in calcium carbonate) developed on limestone and more than 10 cm thick. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes two sub-groups

2.1.1 Brown rendzinas
2.1.2 Humic rendzinas

 

Calcareous soils

Calcareous soils are relatively thick soils, rich in calcium carbonate. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes two sub-groups

2.2.1 Brown calcareous soils
2.2.2 Humic calcareous soils

 

Magnesian soils

Magnesian soils are soils with a high magnesium content. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes two sub-groups

3.1.1 Brown magnesian soils
3.1.2 Humic magnesian soils

 

Brown soil

Brown soils are moderately acid soils with brown mineral topsoils and brown or yellowish subsoils. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes two sub-groups

3.2.1 Brown earths
3.2.2 Brown podzolic soils

 

Podzols

Podzols are acid soils with bright orangey-brown coloured subsoils and/or dark brown to black, organic rich subsoils. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes seven sub-groups

3.3.1 Humus podzols
3.3.2 Humus-iron podzols
3.3.3 Iron podzols
3.3.4 Peaty podzols
3.3.5 Peaty gleyed podzols
3.3.6 Subalpine (Orohemiarctic)
3.3.7 Alpine (Oroarctic)

 

Gleys

Gleys are soils that are periodically or permanently waterlogged. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes eight sub-groups

4.1.1 Saline gleys
4.1.2 Calcareous gleys
4.1.3 Magnesian gleys
4.1.4 Noncalcareous gleys
4.1.5 Humic gleys
4.1.6 Peaty gleys
4.1.7 Subalpine (Orohemiarctic)
4.1.8 Alpine (Oroarctic)

 

Basin peat

Poorly drained lowland soils with an organic surface layer more than 50 cm thick. Basin peat generally forms at low levels in distinct depressions. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes three sub-groups

5.1.1 Eutrophic basin peat
5.1.2 Mesotrophic basin peat
5.1.3 Dystrophic basin peat

 

Semi-confined peat

Poorly drained partly confined soils with an organic surface layer more than 50 cm thick. Semi-confined peat is generally formed in valleys, on terraces or between ridges. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes three sub-groups

5.2.1 Eutrophic semi-confined peat
5.2.2 Mesotrophic semi-confined peat
5.2.3 Dystrophic semi-confined peat

 

Blanket peat

Poorly drained upland soil with an organic surface layer more than 50 cm thick. It in unconfined and "blankets" the landscape. The Scottish soil classification (2013) includes three sub-groups

5.3.1 Eutrophic blanket peat
5.3.2 Mesotrophic blanket peat
5.3.3 Dystrophic blanket peat


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