Data from Cranfield University is underpinning the Welsh Government’s new Predictive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Map, recently launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair. The Predictive Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Map allows land users, planners and Government to make informed choices about how agricultural land is used in Wales.  Research previously released by Cranfield University revealed that soil degradation costs the economy in England and Wales an estimated £1.2billion per year.

The ALC Map was produced using data from Cranfield University’s LandIS (Land Information System). LandIS is a substantial environmental information system including spatial mapping of soils at a variety of scales, as well as corresponding soil property and agro-climatological data. LandIS is the largest system of its kind in Europe and is recognised by UK Government as the definitive source of national soils information.

A recent paper from Cranfield academics, published in the journal Soil Use and Management, highlights this work, alongside recent developments in Land Information Systems and demonstrates the value of using legacy-based natural resource inventories, such as LandIS, alongside more contemporary sources of information, such as satellite imagery.

Caroline Keay, Senior Information Scientist at Cranfield University’s Centre for Environment and Agricultural Informatics, said: “Soil is a vital natural resource, it is responsible for 95% of our food production and helps regulate the natural environment. It is crucial that land users, planners and Government understand the impact that their decisions have on soils.

“Using information from LandIS, we were able to support the Welsh Government in creating their Predictive Agricultural Land Classification Map. This map will be an important resource for Wales, allowing decision-makers to consider the consequences of their decisions, helping them to avoid degradation and maximise soil as a resource.”

Cranfield University was recently awarded its fifth Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research and education in large-scale soil and environmental data for the sustainable use of natural resources in the UK and worldwide. This is the first time in the Prize’s history that an award has been given for soil science.

Notes for editors

Today, 5 December is World Soils Day. Academics from Cranfield University are available to interview about their work and the importance of soil to the UK’s economy, food production and natural environment.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.