Priorities for UK soils

Lewis Peake*, Lorna Dawson, Paul Newell-Price, Fer Aller, Anne Bhogal, Donnacha Doody, Andrew Gregory, Jennifer McKinley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To secure essential soil ecosystem services (SES) the importance of soils must be recognised, and priorities defined. These priorities depend on the pressures on soils that reflect their specific properties, where they are and how they are used. The variety of soils in the UK reflects the array of parent materials and processes that have influenced their formation. The UK climate is dominated by a westerly flow of air, bringing regular rainfall (average annual rainfall (AAR) of 1,000 to >3,000 mm)) to western and upland areas (generally above 300 m altitude) dominated by permanent grasslands, peatlands and moorlands, with the driest areas, dominated by cultivated land, in the east (AAR of 500-800 mm).

The predominance of agriculture (c. 70% of the land surface) and the diversity of soil and climatic conditions have influenced UK soil threats and priorities. Meanwhile, an increasing urgency to mitigate and adapt to climate change has meant a new direction for land use and management, with plans to increase the area of woodland, protect and enhance peatland and sequester additional carbon in mineral soils.
Soil science has long been an important discipline in the UK. The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) continues to play a major role in professional training and accreditation, including excellence in teaching of soil science at all levels.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Apr 2022


  • UK soils
  • soil priorities
  • soil threats
  • soil degradation
  • soil policies
  • soil governance
  • agricultural land take

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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