Working with Soil Programme

Working with Soil is a unique programme of professional competency documents and matching practical training courses established by the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS). Training in the practical aspects of field soil science is designed to develop the soil science skills of all professionals involved in the use and management of land or related research and development.

Soil and the processes that operate within it influence a wide range of land-based activities. The profitability of land-based industries, the effectiveness of environmental improvement and regulation, the richness of wildlife habitats and even the playability of sports turf are all dependent on the application of soil science. A basic knowledge of how to investigate and characterise soil and an understanding of how to use and manage soil in a range of professional contexts are of value to all land-based practitioners. Our training courses are designed to help everyone involved with using and managing land.

The Working with Soil Professional Competency standards

The Society published this scheme in 2011 with support from Defra. The scheme comprises a set of 10 documents outlining the minimum qualifications, knowledge and skills required of a professional scientist or engineer conducting a range of contract work. Document 1 outlines what are called the Foundation Skills – the ability to expose, fully and accurately describe a soil , classify different soils, and understand and record soil variability across an area of land. Other documents relate to specific tasks such as Agricultural Land Classification, or sectors of work such as, for example, soil science in crop and livestock production, landscape design and construction, the application of organic materials to land, and integrated soil and water management.

As well as forming a structured framework within which professionals can plan and organise their professional development, the documents are also intended to be of use to organisations commissioning work or seeking to appoint new staff. The documents are freely available for inclusion in job descriptions or tender documents in order that professionals with the full set of required skills and knowledge are employed.

The full set of documents can be downloaded here

Training & CPD 

The Society is developing one and two day training courses to match the competency documents. Priority has been given to the Foundation Skills which are covered by courses 1 (one day), 2 and 3 (two days each). Further courses are being added gradually. Courses are held at sites spread around Great Britain.

The latest courses can be viewed here