Soil sample data

Discover more about our soil data archives for Great Britain and find out more about soil analysis within NERC. We are working to make our datasets more readily accessible and will be adding downloadable data content to these pages as it becomes available.

We encourage non-commercial users to users to combine these research materials with their own maps and data.

Contact us if you create something new and innovative that could benefit others: BGS enquiries or CEH enquiries.

Rural soil data

The British Geological Survey (BGS) and Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) hold various datasets for soil samples collected across the UK. These include physical, chemical and biological data.

See below to find specific details for each dataset.

United Kingdom and Great Britain coverage

Countryside Survey map for the UK.

Soil data has been collected by the Countryside Survey in three surveys from 1978-2007 and is representative of the topsoil to 15 cm depth. Samples are collected from 591 (1 km × 1 km) squares across the UK. Data are available on the total stock and inter-survey change of a wide range of soil attributes including soil carbon, nutrients, heavy metals and invertebrates.

Both summary and raw data by country, broad habitat, vegetation type, and soil organic matter category can be downloaded from Countryside Survey data access. You will need to become a registered user to access their data.

*Please note that available data does not contain spatial coordinates for Countryside Survey sampling locations.


GEMAS grazing land soil sample locations for the UK

The Geochemical Mapping of Agricultural soils in Europe (GEMAS) project collected soil samples during 2008 at a density of 1 site per 2500 km2 from grazing and arable fields across the UK.

For further information please contact BGS enquiries. The data is due to be published as a geochemical atlas towards the end of 2013. The latest information about GEMAS and outputs is published in: Reimann, C, de Caritat, P, GEMAS Project Team and NGSA Project Team. 2012. New soil composition data for Europe and Australia: demonstrating comparability, identifying continental-scale processes and learning lessons for global geochemical mapping. Science of The Total Environment, 416, 239-252.

National coverage

NSI soil sample locations in England and Wales

The National Soil Inventory (NSI) is a set of soil samples at a density of 1 sample per 25 km2 collected during the 1980's across England and Wales. In a joint project between BGS and Rothamsted Research, some 5700 surface soil samples (0-15 cm), were reanalysed for 53 major and trace elements (e.g. Al, Ca, Rb, La, Se etc.). A new atlas of interpolated maps for these elements is available at

Other important soil property data relating to the samples collected as part of the National Soil Inventory are held and maintained by the National Soil Resources Institute (Cranfield University).

Regional and local coverage

The Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) project has collected samples at a density of one sample per 2 km2; from mostly agricultural fields, across part of Great Britain. Each sample site has a surface (5–20 cm) and a profile (35–50 cm) sample. Inorganic analytical data are available for over 50 determinands.

See G-BASE rural geochemical mapping for further information on the areas that have been sampled between 1985 and 2010 and how to acquire this data.



ECN and Plynlimon research sites

Soil data are also available for a number of long-term research sites at specific locations across the Great Britain including:

Urban soil data

High density soil geochemical data are also available for 25 major cities and towns of Great Britain. Soil samples were collected as part of the Geochemical Baseline Survey of the Environment (G-BASE) project at a density of four sites per 1 km2 within the build-up areas. At each sampling site a surface (5–20 cm) and a profile (35–50 cm) sample were collected (and a third topsoil sample from 0–2 cm across Greater London).

See G-BASE urban geochemical mapping for further information on the areas that have been sampled between 1993 and 2010 and how to acquire this data.


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Latest News

The NERC Soil Portal is being enhanced to include many other partners to become the UK Soil Observatory (UKSO). The UKSO launch will be on the 10th April in London. To find out more please contact

This site is hosted by the British Geological Survey but responsibility for the content of the site lies with the NERC Soil Portal not with the British Geological Survey, Questions, suggestions or comments regarding the contents of this site should be directed to Russell Lawley.