Scottish Government and soil research

Most of the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) funded research is carried out by the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI), Centres of Expertise and Higher Education Institutes as part of the Strategic Research Portfolio.

The Strategic research Portfolio includes:

  • Strategic Research Programme
  • Underpinning Capacity
  • Centres of Expertise

A Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science (CAMERAS) ensures that science funded in these areas is joined up and supports the Government's single purpose of sustainable economic growth. This is delivering a Soil Monitoring Action Plan for Scotland.

A Soils Engagement Group aims to provide a non-technical forum for exchange of knowledge, ideas and expertise among policymakers, agencies, other public bodies and the strategic portfolio researchers.

Strategic Research Programme

A new Strategic Research Programme for 2022-2027 will be announced soon.

The Strategic Research Programme 2016-21 delivered soil research mainly under a Natural Assets theme, which focused on soils in semi-natural systems, and under a Productive and Sustainable Land Management theme, which focused on soils in more intensive agricultural systems. Interaction was built throughout the Programme to support delivery of integrated outputs.

Underpinning Capacity

The National Soils Archive and Scottish Soil Database are maintained and developed as part of Underpinning Capacity to support the needs of an increasingly digital world.

Find out more about the National Soils Archive in a guest presentation given to the International Network of Soil Information Institutions by Dr Allan Lilly of the James Hutton Institute.

Centres of Expertise

Centres of Expertise work at the interface between policy and research, providing research and analysis aimed at meeting short-term policy needs, including soil, climate and water interactions:

There are also centres of expertise responsible for plant health and animal disease outbreaks (EPIC).


SEFARI is made up of six globally renowned research institutes, three of which have soil research expertise:

The other SEFARI institutes are Moredun Research Institute, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Rowett Institute.

The SEFARI Gateway is the knowledge exchange hub for SEFARI.  The Gateway aims to make the outputs of RESAS-funded research accessible to a wide audience. It uses a variety of activities to explore topical issues, to improve the impact of the research and ensure its broader benefits are realised.

You can find out more about the kind of work SEFARI does in Case Studies and Blogs.

Examples of soil related Case Studies:

Examples of soil related Blogs:

SEFARI researchers also contribute their knowledge to the Soils Engagement Group.

Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021 Reports

You can keep up to date with the progress of RESAS-funded research, including the work on soils, in project summaries hosted on the SEFARI website.

Technical biannual research updates are compiled for RESAS highlighting key findings and impacts of the Research Programme:

Less technical annual Spotlight reports are aimed at a wider audience:


Strategic Research Programme Archive


The Knowledge Scotland archive highlights key findings from the 2011-2016 Strategic Research Programme.

Annual Spotlight reports:

Summaries of 2011-2016 research outputs on selected topics are also available including:


Information and final reports from the 2005-2010 Programme can be found on the Scottish Government website.

This page was last updated on 26 Apr 2021

  Adobe Acrobat Reader is the free, trusted leader for reliably viewing, annotating and signing PDFs.
Download Adobe Acrobat Reader