The UK Soil Observatory (UKSO) is a completely free online data discovery platform hosted by the British Geological Survey (BGS) that provides easy access to soil-related data (e.g. soil texture, soil grain size, bare soil water erosion, runoff or soil wash, bare soil wind erosion, etc.) at various scales (from regional to the fields) for the whole country. A better understanding of soil types and properties is vital for developing strategies for sustainable agricultural production.
The soil data used within UKSO have been gathered from eleven partner research bodies. The data covers a wide range of topics from soil type and texture to chemical and biological properties. It is freely available in the UKSO map viewer as map layers and on the UKSO website as static maps.
The UKSO website interface has been completely updated to become more intuitive and user-friendly, along with new freely available and public datasets being added to the map viewer such as Nitrates Vulnerable Zones (NVZs), WFD Groundwater bodies, Land Cover Map 2015 25m raster and Crop Map of England as part of a dedicated agri-business section of UKSO. The BGS also engaged intensively with stakeholders to raise awareness among farmers, helping understand how they access the information we are providing to make changes to a fit-for-purpose product.
Data access varies in UKSO, some datasets can be downloaded while others need to be licenced. Recently, BGS further developing the UKSO as part of a Transformation Food Production Seeding Awards project. These Awards aimed to accelerate the transition from discovery research to the early stage of development of novel, data-driven precision agriculture solutions though preliminary data generation.
BGS staff are continuing to work on and update UKSO to help bring attention to the product in the agri-tech market. If you would like to learn more, make sure you follow @UKSoilObs on twitter and come visit us at the CropTec Show 2019 Stand 2.9.