We created the National Soil Map to give non-soil scientists the evidence they need to understand and manage land-based risks and opportunities.

Key facts

    • We have launched a National Soil Map showing soil types across England and Wales.

    • This unique online map will help avoid costly reputational and financial damage by identifying environmental risks; and makes it easy for even non-soil scientists to understand soil risks and resources. This allows people to better manage their land, infrastructure and urban spaces, saving them money and time.

    • And it can also answer specific questions like: Is my house at risk of subsidence or flooding? Will I be able to grow potatoes without irrigation here in 20 years? Which roads are most at risk from potholes?

Impact of our research

This is the first time a dataset of this nature and complexity has been available to view and purchase online.

Ignoring the soil can lead to infrastructure failure or lost opportunity. So we have reinterpreted our maps to provide  people with the evidence they need to support their individual decision making. This allows them to understand the soil risks (or opportunities) they face, and act accordingly.

The National Soil Map will help a number of different businesses to better manage land, buildings, infrastructure and environments (for example, managing 100-year-old water pipes, growing fragile crops in changeable weather, preventing chemicals leaching into our water sources, or keeping our roads in as good condition as possible).

Why the research was commissioned

Soil is a fundamental building block for our ecosystem, and provides key support for, and threats to, our infrastructure and buildings.

There are more than 700 different soil types in England and Wales alone, and each reacts to weather and stresses in different ways. Given this complexity, we were keen to make it as easy as possible for non-soil specialists to understand the risks and opportunities presented by different soils.

Why Cranfield?

The source data for our National Soil Map is the result of more than 60 years of soil survey work by the Soil Survey of England and Wales and took more than 200 man years to create.

In the 1980s, the soil survey was closed and about half the staff moved to Cranfield. Since then we have developed many specific versions of our soils maps which are in use by most major water companies as well as many consultants and government bodies.