Scottish Government and soil research

Scottish Government funds a portfolio of strategic environment, natural resources and agriculture research to provide evidence to support policy makers and delivery partners. This funding helps maintain long-term research programmes and science facilities which directly support Scotland’s academic research base and allow research institutes to attract external funding.

Find out more on the Scottish Government Environment, natural resources and agriculture strategic research webpage.

Examples of key Scottish Government Policies that influence or are influenced by soils include:

  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity
  • Agriculture / Forestry

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 (SRP)
  • Underpinning National Capacity
  • Centres of Expertise
  • Responsive Research Fund
  • Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) Gateway

Strategic Research Programme

The Strategic Research Programme for 2022-2027 has been developed “to support research that is relevant, respected and responsive to Scotland’s environment, communities, its people and to the rural economy”. 

Two main areas of research in the SRP that relate to soils are:

Find out more about work funded by the SRP on the SEFARI Website research pages.

Outputs generated by the Healthy Soils project an be found on the project's online repository

Underpinning National Capacity

The National Soils Archive and Scottish Soil Database are maintained and developed as part of Underpinning National Capacity to support the needs of an increasingly digital world. If you would like more information about the work funded, you can request the tender documents by e mailing

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).

Responsive Research Fund

The responsive research fund provides flexibility to commission short-term policy-led projects identified through knowledge exchange, horizon scanning and centres of expertise.


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 (Centre of expertise for knowledge exchange and impact) 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.

Research Outputs

A newsletter "The Soil Sentinel" will be published every few months to provide the latest information on the soil related research being carried out as part of the RESAS Strategic Research Programme.

Strategic Research Archive


The final report from the 2016-2022 Strategic Research Programme can be downloaded from the SEFARI website.

An overview of the 2016-2021 Strategic Research Portfolio can be found in the Scottish Government webarchive.

Project summaries are 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:


Information on the 2011-2016 Strategic Research Portfolio can be found in the Scottish Government webarchive.

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 05 Dec 2023

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