The soils of Scotland in the World Reference Base classification system

In order to generate a soil map of Scotland using the World Reference Base (WRB) soil classification system, the dominant soil taxonomic unit in each 1:250 000 scale soil map units were classified according to the diagnostic criteria laid out in WRB 2007 (IUSS Working Group WRB, 2007) and following the updated procedures for constructing small scale map legends (IUSS Working Group WRB, 2010). As the intention was to produce a map at a notional scale of 1:1 000 000, the soils were classified to the level of the reference soil group and two qualifiers.

A set of rules were devised and applied to the dominant soil type in each of the 580 soil map units of the 1:250 000 scale national soil map of Scotland (Soil Survey of Scotland Staff, 1981), for each of the broad land use phases (cultivated or uncultivated) where appropriate, and using the summary analytical data contained within the SSKIB database. The rules for identifying reference soil groups, diagnostic criteria and diagnostic horizons are listed in the GS soil report (Hudson et al., 2012). The rules were implemented with a Microsoft Access database wherever possible, with some manual checking and updating. Additional information such as the HOST classification (Boorman, Hollis, and Lilly, 1995) was used to provide additional information on soil wetness (colour pattern, gley and stagnic properties) as the soil morphological information required to classify soils according to WRB (such as stagnic or gleyic colour patterns and horizon permeability) had already been determined and was not part of the SSKIB database. Chemical, texture or horizon type data were taken where required from SSKIB and therefore are median values for the specific property. The application of these rules to the dominant soil series (for both cultivated and uncultivated phases in each of the 1:250 000 scale map units) resulted in 75 unique WRB classes.


Boorman, D B, Hollis, J M and Lilly, A.  1995   Hydrology of soil types: a hydrologically-based classification of the soils of the United Kingdom.  Institute of Hydrology Report No.126.  Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford.

Hudson, G et al.  2012.  Harmonisation of 1:250 000 scale soil maps and soil profile data in the Celtic fringe of Europe: Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire.  Test case report. D4.3 Data Harmonization Best Practice Guidelines, GS Soil Final Report to the European Commission.

ECP-2008-GEO-318004IUSS Working Group WRB.  2007.  World Reference Base for Soil Resources 2006, first update 2007.  World Soil Resources Reports No. 103.  FAO, Rome.

IUSS Working Group WRB.  2010.  Addendum to the World Reference Base for Soil Resources: Guidelines for constructing small-scale map legends using the World Reference Base for Soil Resources.  FAO, Rome.

Soil Survey of Scotland Staff.  1981.  Soil maps of Scotland at a scale of 1:250 000.  Macaulay Institute for Soil Research, Aberdeen.

Please cite as: Lilly, A, Baggaley, N, Donnelly, D.  2012.  Map of Soils World Reference Base of Scotland.  Map prepared for EU project GS-SOIL -Assessment and strategic development of INSPIRE compliant Geodata-Services for European Soil Data. ECP-2008-GEO-318004.

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The soils of Scotland in the World Reference Base classification system

Map legend

Key Term used
Title The soils of Scotland in the World Reference Base classification system
Source The James Hutton Institute
Scale(s) 1:250 000
Coverage All Scotland
Format GIS polygon data. (ESRI, others available by request.)
Price A free WMS service is available.
Uses National scale
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