Land Information System

Welcome to the LandIS Soil Portal

LandIS News Blog
  1. Soilscapes Mobile App v1.2.1 launched: January 18 2018
  2. Easy access to GIS Soils Data: January 8 2018
  3. University wins fifth Queen's Anniversary Prize: December 1 2017
  4. Design, Development and Impact of the soil educational website October 24 2017
  5. Developments in land information systems: examples demonstrating land resource management capabilities and options: October 23 2017
  6. New Soil Site Reports: May 4 2017
  7. Feeding the nine billion: February 2017
  8. Soil Site Reporter Upgrade: January 18 2017
  9. Radio 4 Interview on Farming Today: January 17 2017
  10. Glastonbury Festival: June 23 2016
  11. Bluesky Launches Soil Map of England and Wales Online: March 16 2016
  12. Soilscapes - Mobile soil mapping app: October 29 2015
  13. Lowland Peat Data Capture: May 29 2015
  14. 2015 International Year of Soils: January 1 2015
  15. UK Soil Observatory wins Geospatial Excellence award
  16. UK Soil Observatory nominated for Geospatial Excellence award
  17. New HORIZON Hydraulics version 2.0, November, 2014
  18. Launch of the new online Irish Soil Information System project, Ireland, 15 September, 2014
  19. Helping the EU Joint Research Centre run the 'Soil - the hidden treasure', Copenhagen, 21-24 June, 2014
  20. Conclusion of the Irish Soil Information System project, June, 2014
  21. New Soil Series distribution maps available in the Soils Guide, May 15 2014
  22. Deep Down and Dirty, April 25 2014
  23. Cranfield contribute to the UK Soils Observatory, April 1 2014
  24. LandIS Lunchtime Seminar presented at Defra by Cranfield University, March 20 2014
  25. World Soils Day - 75% off Soil Site Reporters, December 5 2013
  26. New Soil Map products added to LandIS: November 5 2013
  27. Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI) launched: October 1 2013
  28. LandIS Metadata available on DATA.GOV.UK: September 30 2013
  29. New Soilscapes application now available: July 2013
  30. Soil and Water Management Workshop: May 14 2013
  31. Texture triangle tool available: March, 2013
  32. New Soilscapes Guide available: February, 2013
  33. Soil Series Photo Archive available: January, 2013
  34. Soils Guide launched: January, 2013
  35. A history of soil survey video: September, 2012
  36. A history of soil survey in England and Wales: April, 2012
  37. LandIS Downloads Interactive document reader service launched: October, 2011
  38. LandIS Soilscapes Viewer Survey Launched: August, 2011
  39. What are the LandIS team up to?: July, 2011
  40. Clay Shrinkage and Swelling: June, 2011
  41. GIS at Cranfield: May, 2011
  42. Gold under Bracken: April, 2011
  43. Redevelopment of Soilscapes Viewer: April, 2011
  44. Launch of LandIS Metadata server: October, 2010
  45. Launch of video support tools: August, 2010
  46. Launch of the Bullock Building: July, 2010
  47. Treefit service launched: June, 2010
  48. First CatchIS User Conference: May, 2010
  49. National Soil Archive comes to Cranfield: February, 2010
  50. Agriculture - the industry of the future: October, 2009
  51. Launch of new LandIS website: June, 2009
  52. Presentation from the MALSIS, Maltese Information System project: October, 2004
  53. Cranfield University join the ESRI Business Associate scheme: October, 2004


Soilscapes Mobile App v1.2.1 launched

January 18, 2018

Today we launched the latest version of our Soilscaeps soil mobile App on the Apple iTunes App Store. The v1.2.1 iOS App includes updated graphics and visual identify, as well as providing a fitting opportunity to note the new Queens Anniversary Award which Cranfield University was recently awarded for its soils work.

New Soilscapes app New Soilscapes app Top

Fast, affordable access to GIS Soils Data

January, 2018

New Mapshop

If you need quick, easy and inexpensive access to our GIS soils data, you will love our new mapshop.

How to access the soil data:

1) head to our new mapshop

2) choose you area, and datasets

3) checkout, and you will be working with the data in less than 20 minutes

As well as the award-winning National Soil Map, and our market-leading subsidence models (the enhanced Natural Perils Directory), you can also get access to aerial photography, terrain models (DTM / DSM) and the National Tree Map. More data will be added through 2018.

Check out the mapshop now.

And if you want 25% off your soil data orders in January 2018, use the code SOILS25 at the checkout.


University wins fifth Queen's Anniversary Prize

December, 2017

Queen’s Anniversary Prize

Cranfield University is delighted to announce that, for the fifth time in its history, it is the proud recipient of a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Cranfield is one of only eight institutions to have won the award on five or more separate occasions.

Cranfield received the award 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.

Cranfield has a long history of soil science research and education. In England and Wales alone, the equivalent of over 200 years of fieldwork has identified over 750 different types of soil. Together with a unique, parallel international soils archive, the University has created the largest collection of soil information in Europe. Cranfield University has been designated by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs as the national reference centre for soils.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded to universities and colleges who submit work judged to show excellence, innovation, impact and benefit for the institution itself and for people and society generally in the wider world. They are the UK’s most prestigious form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize is a tremendous recognition of the soils work of the university, and the curation undertaken of the national soil resource datasets, stretching back to when the Soil Survey of England and Wales joined Cranfield back in 1987, forming the Soil Survey and Land Research Centre, through to the current day. These datasets are held in our Land Information System, LandIS, described on this website, plus the parallel World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue (WOSSAC), described at The Prize is a great testament to all the many survey staff who were responsible for gathering this unique body of data about our soil resources, and recognises the many ways in which this data has been put to use by a broad spectrum of users, with many soil resource applications ranging from food security to environmental impact assessment, ecosystem services and natural capital to geotechnical interpretations.

Stephen Hallett

For more information, see:


Design, Development and Impact of the soil educational website

October, 2017


It was more than ten years ago that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) funded the design, development and launch of Soil-Net, an innovative, open, online soil education website resource to support school curricula ( Throughout this time, Soil-Net has received strong support from BSSS, and many members have contributed materials within it. Soil science was, and remains today, under-represented in teaching National Curriculum in UK schools, despite recognition of soil as a major global natural resource and longstanding policy recognition of the importance of soil for understanding environmental systems and stewardship.

The design and development of Soil-Net was led by Cranfield University with the Norwich University of the Arts (now Norwich University of the Arts) and included the Open University, schools and other partners. Now, following more than a decade of online availability, Stephen Hallett (Cranfield University) and Sally Caird (The Open University) have analysed website data on the adoption, use and impact of Soil-Net from 2006-2016, to provide an evaluation of the Soil-Net resources.

Today, Soil-Net is used in 223 countries and territories worldwide, with substantial evidence that the teaching and learning resources provided are being widely consulted. The materials have been used by over a million and a half users across the world, significant, given the original focus was to support school science education solely in England and Wales. The analysis has revealed evidence of student learning supported by Soil-Net resources; and the user ratings and qualitative feedback from primary and secondary school students, teachers and parents showed positive satisfaction ratings.

Analysis of Soil-Net centred on three areas: adoption and usage through Web statistics, user knowledge through quiz scores, and user satisfaction through feedback data. This enabled the initial evaluation following a decade of availability of the Soil-Net educational resources. However, analysis of usage data alone is not sufficient to provide a full evaluation and further research is needed. Soil-Net has a blended learning design whereby the online educational resources are designed to be used in a variety of educational contexts by teachers and students, and therefore a full evaluation requires further research on teacher and student experiences using Soil-Net resources across different year groups, curricula, and school systems in different countries.

Going forward with developing Soil-Net, the focus of the existing resources, currently aimed at the 5- to 16-year age range, could be extended to strengthen the focus on curricula for the 16- to 19-year age group undertaking A-levels and vocational qualifications. This has been recommended by many teachers. However, the learning design for Soil-Net was not designed to be restricted to students of a particular age, ability, or year group, or to particular school systems. Another future development area would be to extend the popularity of Soil-Net resources from Anglophone countries, providing translation options for using the resources in non–English-speaking countries. Moreover, curriculum maps could be adapted to align more closely with other educational systems and contexts to develop a world Soil-Net. Further development of online soil educational resources could also provide opportunity to work with teachers and students to crowd-source soil science research data in participating countries. Lastly, more work is required to develop the website resources to use the latest innovative pedagogies and ICTs to ensure ongoing applicability and sustainability of the resources. To support development of Soil-Net resources, research is also needed to further evaluate how Soil-Net is used in schools, and its contribution to soil science teaching and learning.

A recent article published in the journal Soil Science outlines the analysis and findings in detail, see: Hallett, S.H. & Caird, S.P. 2017. Soil-Net: Development and Impact of Innovative, Open, Online Soil Science Educational Resources. Soil Science. Vol 182, Issue 5, 188-201.


Developments in land information systems: examples demonstrating land resource management capabilities and options

October, 2017

Welsh ALC assessment

Land Information Systems (LIS) provide a foundation for supporting decision-making across a broad spectrum of natural resource applications: agronomic, environmental, engineering and public good. Typically, LIS constitute a computerized database repository holding geospatial components, ‘mapping unit’ geometry and related georeferenced materials such as satellite imagery, meteorological observations and predictions and scanned legacy mapping. Coupled with the geospatial data are associated property, semantic and metadata, representing a range of thematic properties and characteristics of the land and environment.

A recent paper, noted below, produced by Cranfield soils researchers has sought to provide examples of recent developments of national and regional LIS, presenting applications for land resource capabilities and management. The work focusses on examples drawn from the ‘Land Information System’ (LandIS) for England and Wales (, and the ‘World Soil Survey Archive and Catalogue’ (WOSSAC) (

To highlight the range and value of LIS approaches, and their application to environmental issues, we have considered case studies of LIS in a number of international contexts. The first outlines the establishment of a new Welsh Agricultural Land Classification (ALC), for use at a policy level to help plan and administer appropriate national agricultural support mechanisms. The ALC systems described is extensible and could be transferred successfully to other national contexts. The second example outlines the production of a new national soil map and a national soil and LIS for the Republic of Ireland. This uses a unique method, which fuses harmonized legacy data and soil associations predicted by digital soil mapping, to produce a new national scale soil class map. The final example articulates the use of the materials in WOSSAC, together with other sources of contemporary data, such as high-resolution satellite data, to identify a suitable land bank in Malaysia for the application of biofertilizers derived from palm oil.

LIS provide a foundation for the provision of purposeful and timely environmental interpretations, drawing on soil and related thematic data, and offering insights into land properties, capabilities and characteristics, such as national ALC, the supporting of wider national environmental policies and assessment of suitability of land to receive palm oil biofertilizer. The examples presented in the paper were taken to illustrate the development of national and regional applications in land information systems, and reveal the practical transferability of technical and methodological approaches across geographical contexts. The examples demonstrate the value of natural resource inventories, used as a source of legacy information, which, once reconciled and integrated correctly, can be interoperated with other contemporary sources of information, such as satellite imagery.

The article, published in the journal Soil Use and Management, outlines the findings in detail:
Hallett, S.H., Sakrabani, R., Keay, C.A. and Hannam, J.A. (2017) Developments in Land Information Systems: Case studies in land resource management capabilities and options. Soil Use and Management. doi: 10.1111/sum.12380. Online at


New Soil Site Reports

May, 2017


We in the Soils Team at Cranfield University are extremely pleased to announce the release of the new, (and very much improved) Soils Site Reporter.

While the whole system has been re-designed, we would like to let you know about three key improvements:

1) Larger maps for easier interpretation

The new reports include much larger mapping of the soils and their properties, so you can more accurately locate positions on the map.

2) Improved pesticide risk mapping

The pesticide runoff map has now been split into two separate maps (one for pesticide runoff potential and one for pesticide adsorption potential), to allow for easier interpretation.

3) At-a-glance soil property information pages

The soil series properties pages have been redesigned to show all the relevant details about a soil type, with a diagram, on a single page.

We encourage you to check out the sample reports and then head on over to the Soils Site Reporter to create your own.


Feeding the nine billion

February, 2017

Feeding the Nine Billion - IES Journal Environmental Scientist

Global food production has increased dramatically in the last 50 years, yet large numbers of people remain malnourished worldwide, compounded by the ever-increasing threats from climate change and resource scarcity. As a result, extensive and coordinated action is required to tackle these huge challenges, on many fronts.

Recognising this, the Journal Environmental Scientist, of the IES (Institution of Environmental Sciences) produced a special edition concerning 'Feeding the Nine Billion'. Cranfield staff wrote two articles in the edition.

Firstly, Dr Jaqueline Hannam produced an artile entitled 'S.O.S. - Save our soil today to meet the food challenges of tomorrow'. Thje piece analyses how soil research and disruptive innovation in farming techniques are contributing to meeting the food challenges of a growing global population. With the importance of soil as the source for most of our food (around 95 per cent of our food comes from soil), a key challenge arises as more food is needed, with the booming global population - and there isn’t actually much viable land left.

Jaqueline noted the importance of innovative thinking and how new approaches are needed in modern farming, because if we continue with the status quo, it has been estimated that soils will only support 60 more harvests. To avoid this catastrophe we need to understand our soils better, and support farmers to try new approaches, many of which will be radically different to their current practices. Agriculture needs disruptive innovation to increase yields sustainably, and this can start with farming for soil. This requires a combination of new technologies and changing farming practices. These should be underpinned by effective knowledge exchange and collaboration between research, industry and agricultural practitioners, and crucially, be supported by agricultural policy that is flexible enough to encourage implementation of the adaptive approaches that are necessary to protect our soil resources. Most farmers recognise the fundamental value of their soil, but the numbers of practising ‘soil farmers’ needs to swell to ensure soils are able to effectively support sustainable increases in food production. This requires investing in soil for the benefit of the farmers and the population of the future. The challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050 is immense, but so is our capacity to challenge and innovate. And remember, we need to save our soil now to save our future planet!

Combine harvesters at work

Continuing in this theme, Cranfield's Dr Stephen Hallett produced a related article entitled 'Smart cities need smart farms', noting how the relationship between research underway at Cranfield University, industry and the farming community is helping to work towards sustainable food production to meet increasing urban demand. This is important as internationally, the latest estimates suggest the world’s population is likely to hit nine billion by 2050. Added to this, the UN estimates that some 54 per cent of the world’s population now live in urban areas, with a predicted increase to 66 per cent by 2050, and for this population in particular, there are fewer opportunities to become self-sufficient for food.

Stephen noted how we must also contend with living with environmental change, and that the impacts of our changing climate will affect how we can use land and what crops can be grown; the UK is no different from anywhere else, and will be affected by these changes (noting that actually in some cases these changes may have positive local effects), but in many cases it is likely to be negative as droughtiness increases. What is needed for tomorrow, to meet the food security challenges of today, is a new approach to farming; and not just technical improvements on existing approaches. The article outlines how research in precision farming, the application of agri-informatics techniques and the development of scientific approaches can aid maximising on-farm production efficiencies.

Both articles are available online in the Environmental Scientist Journal archive.


Soil Site Reporter Upgrade

January, 2017


The new Soils Site Reporter tool was launched on 9th December 2016.

The site reporter tool provides detailed, downloadable PDF soil reports for customisable areas. These provide detailed information on the expected soil conditions at the site and outline interpretations of the soil’s suitability for different uses. The updated application makes use of modern web mapping technologies and shares a common platform with other LandIS web mapping applications such as the Soilscapes Viewer and the LandIS Mapviewer.

The new application will provide far greater flexibility in the future for adding in new functionality, report types and integration with additional datasets and overlays. The Soils Site Reporter tool is now compatible with a range of platforms including mobile, tablets and other touch-screen devices.


Radio 4 Interview on Farming Today

October, 2017

Radio 4 Interview - Farming Today programme

Radio 4's 'Farming Today' programme broadcast on 17 January an interview conducted relating to the InnovateUK 'Precision Soil Mapping' project. Interviewed were Mr Vince Gillingham of AgSpace Ltd., Cranfield's Dr Stephen Hallett, and Mr Richard Oram, on whose Wiltshire mixed farm the interview was conducted. The focus of the interview was about the implications of precision farming on British farming practices, and how novel sources of data such as the satellite-derived soil brightness maps purveyed by AgSpace, when linked with Cranfield soil properties data, can serve to help farmers reduce inputs and increase yields in a sustainable and informed way.


Glastonbury Festival

June, 2016

Muddy boots

Scenes of be-wellied revellers struggling through the mud have become a feature of the Glastonbury festival. The reason for this, as they say, lies in the soil. Cranfield University hold the official soil maps for England and Wales, and we have been looking to see how the local soils affect Glasto festival goers. There are two soil groups that occur commonly around the Glastonbury site, called the Evesham 1 and Evesham 2 soil associations – the area is predominantly covered by the sticky, clay-rich Evesham soil type, or series. Our Soil Site Report of the area shows the problem with these clay soils is that they quickly become water logged and result in rainfall puddling and running off the surface, leading to the familiar ‘stuck in the mud’ experience enjoyed by so many!


Bluesky Launches Soil Map of England and Wales Online

May, 2016


Aerial mapping company Bluesky and Cranfield University have launched an online map showing soil types across England and Wales. The National Soil Map has been created from soil datasets produced by Cranfield University and is designed to inform decision making in a wide range of applications, from land and infrastructure management to construction, habitat assessment and agriculture. It is a perfect complement to data layers already available from (, including Bluesky’s National Tree Map and 3D height datasets.

“If you want to better manage your land, buildings, infrastructure or environment, understanding the soil is a great place to start. Soil is a fundamental building block for our ecosystem, and provides key support for, and threats to, our infrastructure and buildings,” commented Dr Timothy Farewell, Senior Research Fellow at the Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute. “The source data for the Bluesky version of the National Soil Map is the result of more than sixty years of soil survey work and took over 200 man years to create. Our soil data is already in use by most major water companies, many consultants and government bodies.”

“This is the first time a dataset of this nature and complexity has been available to view and purchase online, and we are delighted to be working with Cranfield to ensure its wider application across a range of sectors,” added Rachel Tidmarsh, Managing Director of Bluesky.

The Bluesky National Soil Map is created from two distinct soil datasets produced by Cranfield University; NATMAPvector and Soilscapes. NATMAP Vector is the flagship soil data product from the CSAI. It is a 1:250,000 scale map of England and Wales, showing the locations of the 297 distinct soil associations wherever they occur within the countries. Soilscapes is a 1:250,000 scale, simplified soils dataset covering England and Wales. It was created with the purpose of effectively communicating a general understanding of the variations which occur between soil types, and how soils affect the environment.


Soilscapes - Mobile soil mapping app

October, 2015

Soilscapes app Cranfield University has developed its first app, which is distributed freely to Apple mobile devices through the iTunes store.

The Soilscapes app provides mobile access to the national information on soil from the popular Soilscapes service which currently can be accessed here on the LandIS site.

The app allows users to inspect the soil properties in their neighbourhood and to understand the extent and diversity of soils in England and Wales, providing for public education and awareness, something key to current thinking and needs at Defra. We hope that now much of the groundwork and testing has been done with this application, it will pave the way for further mobile mapping apps in the future.

Whilst the app is currently only available for Apple iOS devices, an Android version is being made ready for launch and we hope to make it available through the Google Play store in the near future.


Lowland Peat Data Capture

May, 2015

Lowland Peat

A National Inventory of Peat was commissioned by MAFF (now Defra) in the late 1980s. In the Soil Archive at Cranfield University, many paper maps and soil survey record cards are held from this survey and others of its kind in the past. These historical records provide a unique and valuable resource in the assessment of how the lowland peat areas in England and Wales have changed over the years.

A recent data collection programme was therefore instigated to capture in digital form much of this raw survey material as a reference point for future studies.

This material is now accessible via Cranfield University.


2015 International Year of Soils

January, 2015

2015 UN IYS

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils (IYS)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the International Year of Soils (IYS) in 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

The specific objectives of the IYS 2015 are to:

  • Raise full awareness among civil society and decision makers about the profound importance of soil for human life;
  • Educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development;
  • Support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources;
  • Promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups;
  • Strengthen initiatives in connection with the SDG process (Sustainable Development Goals) and Post-2015 agenda;
  • Advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national).


UK Soil Observatory wins Geospatial Excellence Award

November, 2014

Following on from the UK Soil Observatory’s recent nomination for a Geospatial Excellence Award, Cranfield is delighted to announce that the UKSO won the AGI award for Excellence with Impact. The award recognises projects which have achieved outstanding success or impact – whether this be within an organisation or at a local, national or international scale.

Commenting on the UKSO, the judges described it as “An ambitious project with huge potential as a spatial research resource for a range of fields including agriculture and geotechnical engineering”.

Cranfield University’s National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) was pleased to play a part in the development of the UKSO, contributing several of its soil related datasets to the project. The UKSO draws together soils data from institutions such as the British Geological Survey (BGS), the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and provides a unified starting point for accessing consolidated soil datasets via a series of interactive web maps and other web based resources. Further information on the UKSO is available on the project website.


UK Soil Observatory nominated for Geospatial Excellence award

November, 2014

Cranfield is pleased to announce that the UK Soil Observatory (UKSO) has been shortlisted by the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) in their upcoming 2014 Awards for Geospatial Excellence. The UKSO was nominated for the AGI Award for Excellence with Impact. AGI describe this award as recognising projects which have achieved outstanding success or impact, measured against societal, humanitarian, environmental or financial benchmarks.

Cranfield University’s National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) was pleased to play a part in the development of the UKSO, contributing several of its soil related datasets to the project. The UKSO draws together soils data from institutions such as the British Geological Survey (BGS), the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and provides a unified starting point for accessing consolidated soil datasets via a series of interactive web maps and other web based resources. Further information on the UKSO is available on the project website.

The AGI awards have been launched to mark the AGI’s 25th anniversary. They are due to take place on Tuesday 11th November 2014. Further details on the awards are available here.


New HORIZON Hydraulics version 2.0

November, 2014


A new version of the HORIZON hydraulics dataset has been released to replace the existing dataset. A paper has recently been published which describes the new predictive equations.

Hollis, J. M., Lilly, A., Higgins, A., Jones, R. J. A. Keay, C. A. and Bellamy, P.H. (2014). Predicting the water retention characteristics of UK mineral soils. European Journal of Soil Science, 2014, doi: 10.1111/ejss.12186


Launch of the new online Irish Soil Information System project

September, 2014

Irish Soil Information System

The new Irish Soil Information System, the key soils environmental resource base for Ireland, developed by Teagasc and Cranfield University staff, and drawing upon all available historical soils information, combined with extensive field work and innovative digital soil assessment techniques, is now available onlie for all to use. The information system is described, and its data made available as a resource at The system is to be launched on September 15th in Wexford, Ireland at the Teagasc Johnstown Castle site.


Helping the EU Joint Research Centre run the “Soil - the hidden treasure” stand

Euro Science Open Forum - Science in the City ‘building bridges’ festival, Copenhagen

21-24 June, 2014

Science in the City - Copenhagen

Dr Stephen Hallett of Cranfield University was an invited expert attending the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) stand "Soil - the hidden treasure" at the recent Euro Science Open Forum ESOF - Science in the City ‘building bridges’ festival which took place in Copenhagen from 21-24 June, 2014, and which was opened by EU President José Manuel Durão Barroso and HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Some tens of thousands of delegates came onto the site over the four days, from scientists and researchers, to general public and school parties. The JRC stand was designed to provide delegates with an overview of the importance of soils. Sections were provided including information on soil and archaeology, soils and biodiversity, soil classification and soil types, threats to soil, soil education and awareness, and examples of Danish soils research. Educational materials were on show including Soil-Net, and other materials prepared by Cranfield for the British Society of Soil science. There was considerable shared interest amongst attendees about the way soils can preserve remnants of previous civilizations, and the role that soils play in archaeology - helping to reveal how the peoples of Denmark lived thousands of years ago. One show highlight was the description of the famous Egtved Pigen, the Egtved lady, a supposed former queen who was found preserved in her solid oak coffin in the soil, together with the remnants of a votive offering to the gods, being the ingredients to brew a special beer. Danish scientists have teamed with a local brewery to especially recreate this beer from the recipe - producing a modern version of a drink first enjoyed 3.5 thousand years ago, the Egtved Pigens Bryg!


Conclusion of the Irish Soil Information System project

June, 2014

Irish Soil Information System

Work has now drawn to a successful conclusion on the 5 year project that has been to develop an Irish Soil Information System. Sponsored by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), project partners Teagasc and Cranfield University have worked to develop a new key environmental resource base for Ireland, drawing upon all available historical soils information, combined with extensive field work and innovative digital soil assessment techniques to produce a new national, rationalised soil map (1:250,000) and database.


New Soil Series distribution maps available in the Soils Guide

May 15, 2014

New addition to the Soils Guide

Maps showing the locations of all soil profiles surveyed by the soil surveyors at NSRI over the years have been added to the Soils Guide for every soil series. These maps are designed to give an overview of the general location and frequency of the soil series. In addition we have added a further 311 brief profile pictures.


Deep Down and Dirty

An excellent new documentary on soils from the BBC

April 25, 2014

For billions of years our planet was devoid of life, but something transformed it into a vibrant, living planet. That something was soil.

It's a much-misunderstood substance, often dismissed as 'dirt', something to be avoided. Yet the crops we eat, the animals we rely on, the very oxygen we breathe, all depend on the existence of the plant life that bursts from the soil every year.

Take out an hour to watch this wonderful new documentary from the BBC about soil. The film shows some of the soils research underway here at Cranfield University and other colleagues from the soils community, and highlights the practical applications of the soil scientist.


Cranfield contribute to the UK Soils Observatory

A cross-institutional window onto the soils of the UK

April 1, 2014

Cranfield University's National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) is pleased to be part of an exciting new initiative to draw together institutions from across the UK who have an interest in soil and soil-related matters. This is manifested in the publication of a UK Soil Observatory (UKSO) online web portal, to be formally launched on April 10th 2014. This portal presents national and regional soil cartographic mapping and data, and soil monitoring resources, plus other materials and resources suited to general soil education and awareness. The portal incorporates information from a number of institutions: in Scotland the James Hutton Institute (JHI) have presented a selection of their data, in Northern Ireland the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will represent some of their own soils data, and in England the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) will place examples of their data on the portal. Other institutions such as the Rothamsted Research Station are presenting information relating to their own long-term soil experiments. It is hoped that over time other institutions will also place examples of their own soils information into the portal.


LandIS Lunchtime Seminar presented at Defra by Cranfield University

LandIS - Land Information System: a soils-focussed information system for England and Wales

March 20, 2014

The LandIS team were in London at Defra to present a lunchtime seminar, open to all staff, on 'LandIS - Land Information System: A soils-focussed information system for England and Wales'. This was a timely opportunity for Cranfield to outline a number of themes to the attendees. Topics focussed upon: the history of Soil Survey and LandIS; the data holdings in LandIS; the means of accessing the data; examples and case studuies of soil data in use; the various online tools and services Cranfield provide to help access the soils data; and lastly an overview vision of the way forward for LandIS. The meeting had a good attendance with an active Q&A discussion after.


World Soils Day 2013

75% off Soil Site Reporters

December 5, 2013

To mark World Soils Day, Cranfield University are offering 75% off the price of our Soil Site Reporter service. Visit the Soils Site Reporter here and create your report now.

This offer will be available until the 31st January 2014


New Soil Map products added to LandIS

November 5, 2013

A Range of new soil maps interpreted from the National Soil Map (NATMAPvector) have been added to our data offerings. These are:

   NATMAP WRB More details ...
   NATMAP HOST More details ...
   NATMAP topsoil texture More details ...
   NATMAP subsoil texture More details ...
   NATMAP wetness More details ...
   NATMAP available water More details ...
   NATMAP carbon More details ...

Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI) launched

Incorporating the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) and food science group

October 1, 2013

Together with the Cranfield food science group, NSRI is now incorporated within the new Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI).


LandIS Metadata available on DATA.GOV.UK

September 30, 2013 for the main data products available in LandIS is now accessible through the Governmant data portal at DATA.GOV.UK


New Soilscapes application now available

Beta version avilable for testing

July 3, 2013

SoilscapesA new beta version of our popular Soilscapes application is now available for you to try. Please note that this protoype is still in development, with improvements being made all the time. However, we feel we are now at the stage that we can begin to let our users try it out for themselves and give their feedback on any improvements or changes that we've made.

If you do try out the new application, please do spend a few moments completing this feedback survey for us to let us know your thoughts.


Soil and Water Management Workshop: May 14 2013

CPD courses from NSRI - come and join us!

Soil water management workshop, May 14 2013

May 14, 2013

A One-Day Soil and Water management workshop is to be held on Tuesday 14th May, 2013. In overview, effective soil and water management are essential in order to optimise crop yields and yield quality and soil functionality for sustainable, profitable UK food production. This one-day course provides a concise technical overview of key factors pertinent to effective soil and water management as well as practical demonstrations of soil properties conducive to and constraining effective water management.

To be held at Cranfield University (Cranfield University, College Road, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL), for further course details and instructions on registering, please download the course brochure


Texture Triangle tool available

New utility for determining soil particle size classes

Texture Triangle utility

March, 2013

A new texture triangle tool has been developed to help our users determine particle size classes from soil samples using the Soil Survey of England and Wales definitions.


New Soilscapes Guide available

Defining the Soilscapes of England and Wales

Soilscapes guide now available

February, 2013

A new guide to the Soilscapes of England and Wales has been added to the Soils Guide toolkit described below.


Soil Series Photo Archive available

Soil profile and landscape images from England and Wales

January, 2013

Soils Series photos now availableA long-standing project to capture the many thousands of photographs captured in the field by our former surveyors has culminated in their launch as a new web resource.

We have added these to the new Soils Guide toolkit described below. When selecting a soil series, you will be presented with a range of descriptive and diagrammatic information on that soil type, now you will also see the related photographs from our archives.


LandIS Soils Guide App Launched

New interactive tool for investigating the soils of England and Wales

January, 2013

Soils Guide App launchedHappy New Year from the LandIS team! To start the year off, try out our new interactive Soils Guide toolkit to explore the various soils of England and Wales. You can use the tool to 'drill down' into the various recognised soils categories to understand their composition and properties.


A history of soil survey video

The development of soil survey in England and Wales

September, 2012

A history of soil survey in England and WalesSoil survey activities in England and Wales were undertaken systematically only from the 1950's. Before that there were attempts to highlight the national soil resources of the two countries, but it was not until the establishment of the Soil Survey of England and Wales (or 'SSEW') at Rothamsted Experimental Station in Hertfordshire in 1954 that this process commenced in earnest. The National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI) at Cranfield University was the direct descendent of this organisation and is the custodian of all the national soils information and data gathered during the survey. NSRI has now merged with the food science group to form the new Cranfield Soil and AgriFood Institute (CSAI).

Two new video presentations have been added to our set of video briefings explaining the history of soil survey in England and Wales, the soil classification system and some examples of how soils information is used today.


A history of soil survey in England and Wales

Presentation at the EGU 2012

April, 2012

Soil survey staff from 1982

Stephen Hallett presented a paper, jointly with Lynda Deeks, concerning “A history of Soil Survey in England and Wales” at the European Geoscience Union (EGU) in Vienna in April. The paper outlined the tale of soil survey activities from the earliest days, charting the work of pioneers such as GW.Robinson in drawing together the consensus for the survey with the then Ministry of Agriculture, then following its inception and ultimate transfer from Bangor to Rothamsted in the post-war years.

The work of the surveyors was outlined leading up to the production of the national soil map and its concurrent computerisation as an enabler for the broad range of monitoring, land suitability and thematic output applications that followed.

This talk has now been made available as an online presentation.


LandIS Downloads Interactive document reader service launched

Improving the presentation of our information

October, 2011

LandIS Interactive Document Reader Service launched

We have recently launched an interactive document reader service for some of our key, popular download documents relating to LandIS and the datasets within. We hope this will make it easier to browse through the information contained.


LandIS Soilscapes Viewer Survey Launched

Tell us what you think!

August, 2011

LandIS User Survey launched

It's important for us to keep in touch with users of the popular LandIS Soilscapes Viewer service, and the requirements user have of this service as we commence a process of redeveloping the offering. We have therefore launched a new User Survey for LandIS to enable us to gain an overview of the ways the data and services are used. Please take a moment to complete the survey.


What are the LandIS team up to?

Launch of the NSRI website

July, 2011

NSRI capabilities

Visit the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI)'s newly updated, extensively restructured institutional website (this was all removed - sorry) to find out more. The data and services provided by LandIS derive from and are used in all areas of NSRI's research, particularly in Soil Spatial Informatics but also Spatial Geosciences, Soil Systems and Soil and Land Management. The new website also has sections describing NSRI's general capabilities as well as our world-leading soil science facilities.


Clay Shrinkage and Swelling

A summer of subsidence ahead?

June, 2011

Clay shrinkage

As the summer of 2011 looms, the weather patterns suggest that following drought conditions this could be a bad year for house subsidence. But how does wetting and drying affect soils - especially clay? have a look at our short explanatory video made by Cranfield Soil Scientists explaining how clay swelling occurs. The most common cause of subsidence in the UK results from the drying and subsequent shrinkage of such clay soils. Cranfield works with leading insurance companies to help them understand the areas of the UK which are most vulnerable to subsidence, flooding and other natural perils, and markets the Natural Perils Directory (NPD).


GIS at Cranfield University

May, 2011

Cranfield MSc in Geographical Information Management

Cranfield University offer a well-respected MSc in Geographical Information Management (GIM) which can be taken full or part-time and which is designed very much with the practical environmental application of GIS technologies in mind. The course is taught by staff including the CatchIS development team.

The MSc is considered suitable for graduates wishing to specialise in or develop knowledge in the practical application of the geographical information technologies of remote sensing, geographical information systems (GIS), spatial data management and the global positioning system (GPS). The part-time option will allow practitioners to enhance their professional development within their current employment.


The Cranfield MSc programme commences in September. Typically the part-time programme is offered on a two-year basis on a "module on, module off" basis throughout. Each of the eight course modules lasts a fortnight, with opportunities for supporting home working.

Further MSc Information

For information on the MSc Geographical Information Management:

Please contact us for further details.


Gold under Bracken

New book from former Soil Survey member

April, 2011

Former Soil Survey of England and Wales colleague Richard Hartnup has announced the recent publication of his excellent book "Gold Under Bracken - the Land of Wales" which has recently been published by Y Lolfa Press. Richard notes how this was written for a general readership, describing the scenery and landscapes of Wales in terms of the various soil types to be found, with lavish illustrations! The book is available from Amazon or any good bookshop.


Redevelopment of Soilscapes Viewer

Your chance to have a say!

April, 2011

Redevelopment of Soilscapes Viewer for LandIS

The Soils Site Reporter represents a popular, free service used by a range of persons. We are about to commence a programme to overhaul and improve the offerings provided through the reporter. We invite you to assist us in this process by letting us
have some feedback on your thoughts of the service and what you would like to see in the future.


Launch of LandIS Metadata server

GeoNetwork server implemented for LandIS

August, 2010

Launch of GeoNetwork metadata server for LandIS

With the INSPIRE journey now well advanced towards a standards-compliant world for geospatial data across Europe, a new metadata service has been launched for users of the LandIS data holdings. Founded on the open source tool GeoNetwork, the new service offers users a chance to better interact with our data holdings, and for distributed searches to now integrate LandIS soil data offerings.


Launch of Video Support tools

August, 2010

Launch of Video Support tools

We are launching the first of what we hope will become many short video clips explaining about the datasets in LandIS, their background and how they can be best used. As an alternative to reading texts, video makes for an immediate means to communicate the important messages inherent in the LandIS data holdings. Over the coming months, we shall be adding a series of further short video clips covering a broad range of the holdings and applications for LandIS. Let us know what you think!


Launch of the Bullock Building

July, 2010

Launch of the Bullock Building by Professor David Kell

In a fitting tribute to Professor Peter Bullock (1937-2008), a former Director of the Soil Survey of England and Wales and its successors in Cranfield University, SSLRC and now NSRI, Cranfield have named one of the key buildings on the Cranfield campus as 'The Bullock Building'. The building was kindly launched by Professor David Kell of BBSRC in a ceremony that brought together a wide range of friends and colleagues - many who have also had associations with Peter and his work. The Bullock Building at Cranfield is the home of the Natural Resources Department in Cranfield within which is the National Soil Resources Institute (NSRI). The building also forms the 'hub' of Cranfield's soil activities, being also the home of the Integrated Environmental Systems Institute (IESSI), The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS), The Institute of Agri-Engineers (IAGRE) and the River Restoration Centre (RRC). Other photographs of this event are available here


Treefit service launched

June, 2010

Treefit service launched

A new service is launched by the LandIS team called Treefit. Treefit is a database service that can match some 60 tree species to areas having their optimum growing conditions across England and Wales. The system draws on the unique databases of soil, climate and landuse in Cranfield's Land Information System to determine the tree suitability for nominated regions, as well as potential timber yield classes. Assessments are made which can provide recommended management regimes, and suitability for such factors as biomass, fencing, floristry, game covert and timber. Treefit is aimed at applications including: preparation for planting grant applications; land restoration planning; community forest action planning; carbon offsetting studies; and regional land use and ecosystem services policy planning.


First CatchIS User Conference

May, 2010

CatchIS - Catchment Information System

The CatchIS team are to hold the first CatchIS User Group conference to allow the community of CatchIS users to share experiences and help to guide the future development of the tool. CatchIS provides a powerful suite of tools and models to assist in the strategic and operational management of water resources at the catchment scale, and to provide an informed and rational response to the Water Framework Directive and to the development of Water Safetey Plans. Further information on this conference is available :


National Soil Archive comes to Cranfield

February, 2010

Soils archive

The National Soil Archive and Publication store have now been moved from their old location at the Silsoe campus to a new home on Cranfield Campus.

The publications store of books and maps is now located within easy access of the publications officer allowing a more efficient turn around on book sales. In the moving process the materials have also been organised and catalogued more efficiently.

The National Soil Archive holds not only a large collection of physical soil samples but also soil data, maps and information collected over many years. Materials include:

  • Over 150,000 Auger bore records;
  • Over 10,000 full soil profile descriptions (only a fraction of which have been captured electronically);
  • 1:10,000 scale field sheets covering almost the whole of England and Wales;
  • a large collection of published papers relating to soil;
  • a large collection of aerial photographs;
  • a substantial collection of satellite imagery (currently being transferred from the original Magnetic tape storage media);
  • an old, valuable collection of soil micro-morphology slides;
  • the historical documents of the original Soil Survey of England and Wales;
  • The WOSSAC map and document collection;

If any of these sound interesting to you and you would like to inquire about access to the material please contact


Agriculture - the industry of the future

October, 2009


NSRI's Professor Mark Kibblewhite outlines how agriculture is the industry of the future.


Launch of new LandIS website

June, 2009


The LandIS team present a new look for the project website. A more contemporary, standards-compliant format improves the experience users will have and hopefully make it now easier to learn more about LandIS and its capabilities.


Presentation from the MALSIS, Maltese Information System project

October, 2004


A promotional video made of the MALSIS project - Maltese Soil Information System, a project funded by the EU Life Third Countries programme in 2004. Partnered by Cranfield University (UK) soil scientists, the Maltese Ministry of Agriculture developed a programme of soil survey across the islands of Malta to describe the soil conditions as one of the precursors to accession as an EU state. The data was used to inform agricultural best practices and to aid compliance with EU environmental Directives.


Cranfield University join the ESRI Business Associate scheme

October, 2004

ESRI Business Associate Logo

The LandIS team joined the ESRI Business Associate scheme. ESRI are the supplier of the leading, industry-standard GIS system that systems derived from LandIS, such as the CatchIS software system are built around. Being an ESRI Business Associate allows the CatchIS team to offer a wide range of GIS software and services alongside the CatchIS tool, allowing for a greater service to CatchIS users.