Soil data maps out facts

A NEW poster has been produced which aims to raise awareness with the general public of the importance of soils.

Soil, the hidden resource, has been sent to every secondary school in England and Wales.

Produced by the Environment Agency and the National Soil Resources Institute, it maps out the characteristics of the nation‘s soils into 28 different soil types.

It describes soil as ‘the fragile living skin of our planet‘ and aims to increase awareness about key roles soil plays, stressing the need to protect and manage this resource.

“The poster indicates the importance attached to education and public awareness about this key resource,” said NSRI development manager Dick Thompson.

Little-known facts about soils, illustrated on the poster, include:

  • Topsoil can reduce the concentration of most pesticides in drainage water by 99.9%.

  • Every year, soil recycles the carbon and nutrients in 110 million tonnes of livestock excreta and nearly one million tonnes of treated sludge from human sewage.

  • Soils take up and release gases, playing a role in the greenhouse effect.

The soil-mapping data behind the poster, held by the NSRI, will shortly be made available on Land Management Information Systems.

This is an online information service for farmers and land managers that is currently being piloted in Hampshire, Sussex and Yorkshire.

“Users will be able to interrogate the data to find out what they can and can‘t do under new EU legislation and how best to manage their land sustainably,” said LaMIS project director Ben Bennetts.

“LaMIS will also play a key role in helping land managers to take advantage of new agri-environment schemes, to identify diversification opportunities and to prepare better whole-farm plans.”