Strategic Plan

Society Strategy and 10-year vision

Mission and Vision

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) is the UK’s leading body in the area of Soil Science with a global reach.

Our Mission is to support and promote the discovery of new knowledge of soils and their role in global sustainability.

Our Vision is to ensure sustainable soils for people and planet.


We will achieve our mission and vision by:

  • promoting scientific study and discovery of new knowledge about soil and ensuring it is accessible to a wide audience,
  • influencing policy and legislation through evidence-based advocacy,
  • supporting our members to develop and continue professional and academic excellence.
The Challenge We Face

To achieve our mission and vision, the Society must address key challenges including:

  • ensuring a sufficient skills base and engagement to deliver sustainable soil management
  • driving research, evidence collection and professional excellence whilst experiencing the impacts of changes to academic publishing, income and attitudes to work promoting soil health in the face of geo-political uncertainty, a growing population and changing social attitudes in a world of technological innovation.
1. Seeking to publicise the key issues for the soil science community

We will raise the profile of the important soil issues via our two prestigious journals (European Journal of Soil Science and Soil Use & Management), our bi-annual member’s newsletter (Soil Matters), our new website, an enhanced social media presence and by hosting regional, national and international conferences. We will actively engage with the media by responding quickly to enquiries, providing factsheets and policy notes ensuring we are acknowledged as the UK’s leading authority on soil science.

In 2022, we will deliver joint activities with partner organisations and maximise the effectiveness of our communications channels which will lead to increased visibility. This will include our Zoom into Soil webinars and partnered events held during the World Congress of Soil Science. We will begin to liaise with the UK media to highlight our evidence-based recommendations for soil health and will continue to deliver clear guidance and science notes. Our website will be a hub for sharing our outputs and will demonstrate an increase in user traffic.

In 2025, we will have delivered a clear legacy from the World Congress including a wider range of active stakeholders and increased resources available to members and non-members. We will use our journals and website as mechanisms to deliver this. We will have become a key contact for UK media on soil-related issues and our science and guidance notes will have expanded into valuable resources for members and stakeholders.

By 2030, our journals will be recognised as two of the leading international journals relating to soil. We will have become a key contact for international media on soil-related issues and we will expand our guidance and science notes to provide context for an international audience. Our website will include greater guidance and information aimed at scientific and non-scientific audiences.

2. Promoting change through knowledge exchange across all aspects of soil science

We will seek to support knowledge exchange in soil science through targeted engagement with industry, policy makers, government and educators. We will promote soil science across a range of disciplines using our website, social media and newsletters, with reference to the appropriate scientific research published in our Journals. We will make the latest knowledge available to a wider community audience and provide a forum for debate and to develop new partnerships. We will also monitor government progress in developing new policies and ensure we feed into this process.

In 2022, we will have increased our visibility to governments, stakeholders and within the soil science community. We will be using our scientific knowledge to provide evidence-based information to local policymakers and recommending members to sit on expert panels and advisory groups. We will engage with those developing guidance, including on the periphery of soil science to encourage collaboration.

By 2025, we will be continuing to provide evidence-based information to policymakers at a national level and have become a contact for governments and stakeholders on soil science issues. We will provide dedicated forums for our members to discuss policy and best-practice issues, allowing us to develop recommendations combining academic and practical perspectives.

By 2030, we will be providing evidence-based information to policymakers at an international level and will take a pro-active approach in responding to international consultations. International stakeholders will seek out our dedicated member forums as advisory groups across the breadth of soil activities.

3. Hosting conferences and meetings focused on soils

We aim to grow participation in our regional and annual meetings. We will act to develop communication pathways with a wide range of stakeholders and use our meetings to foster debate in the latest scientific and practical issues in soil science. Working with the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and other international societies, we are committed to delivering the best possible World Congress of Soil Science in Glasgow in 2022 and ensuring this provides a comprehensive legacy for the Society and its members.

In 2022, we will deliver the World Congress of Soil Science and encourage engagement between soil science experts, organisations, policymakers and those on the periphery of soil science. The World Congress will share the latest evidence-based information with attendees, in person and virtually, and ensure the widest possible audience has access to learnings from the event.

Using the knowledge and experience we develop from delivering the World Congress, we will deliver an international and interdisciplinary activity by 2025. The activity will recur on a cyclical basis and will establish the Society as a key player in the dissemination of soils-based knowledge globally.

By 2030, the international and interdisciplinary activity will be delivered for a second time and have developed in size and reach. The activity will attract a broader, international audience with support from major stakeholders.

4. Supporting and encouraging the education of soil science

We will support the education of soil science across a wide range of individuals and age groups. We will provide information and resources to teachers, farmers, agronomists, growers, industry and land managers and the public via grants, outreach events, training courses and teaching materials.

In 2022, we will use the World Congress as the basis to deliver educational activities to a diverse, scientific and non-scientific audience including hosting outreach and digital events. Our scientific knowledge and history will remain at our core but we will seek to engage with as wide an audience as possible through social media, links with arts groups and other organisations.

In 2025, we will have delivered a clear legacy from the World Congress including a wider range of active stakeholders and increased in-person and digital resources available to members and non-members. This, alongside increased outreach and engagement work, will lead to an increased awareness of the importance of soil amongst a wide range of communities.

By 2030, we will have delivered large-scale outreach programmes, which aim to increase awareness of soil to audiences which can have a demonstrable impact in its care. As a result, the Society will also be recognised by educators and those already engaged in environmental matters, as a reliable source of information.

5. Inspiring the future generations of soil scientists

We will continue to support the development of early career members working in soil science. We will fund a biennial conference dedicated to ECRs and give them prominence at our Society Annual meeting. Through our education committee, we will support teachers and engage in community projects to inspire the next generation of soil scientists.

In 2022 we will provide our Early Careers members with dedicated opportunities to network with their international colleagues during the World Congress of Soil Science. We will continue working with awarding organisations to influence the development of new qualifications which support tomorrow’s soil scientists.

By 2025, we will have developed a clear education and training pathway demonstrating the routes into soil science. We will have understood the gaps that exist and developed new courses and content for those within the sector, where the content does not exist. We will continue to work with external bodies to influence the soil science taught at all levels of the curriculum.

We will continue to provide our Early Careers members with the opportunity to network with their peers face-to-face and virtually, and provide support to help them make the transition into Full membership.

By 2030, we will continue to promote the education and training pathway to members, students and those interested in working with soil. We will work closely with other professional and external bodies to embed soil content into peripheral qualifications, to ensure anyone who works in any context with soil, has the skills to do so.

We will recruit Early Careers members from a wider range of specialisms to encourage collaboration. This will support our members’ career opportunities whilst encouraging interdisciplinary working.

Throughout our 10-year vision, we will encourage Society membership as a mechanism to support training and development at all career stages.

6. Ensuring high standards of professional practice for those working with soils

We will provide dedicated training courses such as our ‘Working with Soils’ series, as well as industry focused events in support of Continued Professional Development, providing high professional standards and assisting with maintaining Chartered Scientist (CSci) registration.

In 2022, we will continue to deliver our successful Working with Soils training series both in person and online. Our Zoom into Soil webinars and World Congress of Soil Science will provide opportunities for members and stakeholders to undertake continued professional development from a well-respected professional body. We will continue to promote CSci as a valuable mechanism to demonstrate professional skills and experience.

We will encourage organisations to join the Society as corporate members and focus on innovative partnerships which will add value to our members’ professional practice.

By 2025, we will require a minimum number of hours of CPD to be provided by Full and Fellow members each year. This will be closely linked to the CSci requirements to encourage more members to obtain CSci status in addition to Society membership. As a result, our members will be well-respected and highly visible as experts in all aspects of soil and its management.

We will update our corporate membership category to allow organisations to demonstrate the value of membership via outcomes aligned to the Society’s mission.

By 2030, our membership and number of CSci registrants will grow and strengthen as our professional standards are seen as a mark of expertise and are in demand from clients. Our clear education and training
pathway will have led to an increase in the number of qualified soil experts and with industry clients specifying our members for soils work. Our external-facing activities will have led to an increase in membership across non-practitioner grades and we will have introduced tangible benefits to encourage membership amongst the non-scientific community.

7. Leading on the social and environmental responsibilities of a contemporary society

We will provide leadership in the areas concerning the socio-economic responsibilities of a modern Society. We will ensure all members have equality of opportunity, irrespective of age, race, disability, sex, religion or other protected characteristics. We will ensure our activities are planned with issues of equality, inclusion and diversity at the forefront of all decision making and that we act environmental responsible and achieve carbon neutrality where possible.

In 2022, we will measure our environmental impact in delivering the World Congress of Soil Science. Our executive and volunteers will be expected to offset their own environmental impact by supporting local, practical projects which support soil health. Delegates will be actively encouraged to engage with similar projects in their home locations. A study of our environmental impacts and practical solutions to reducing those impacts will be shared with scientific and non-scientific audiences.

We will encourage diversity and inclusion at our events and members and event delegates will be expected to follow a Code of Conduct to engage with Society activities.

In 2025, the Society will have a thorough understanding of its environmental impact across all aspects of its operation and have a clear plan in place to reduce and offset its impact. We will continue to encourage inclusion within our membership by providing diverse role models at events and in our case studies.

By 2030, the Society will be a ‘carbon positive’ organisation, having minimised its environmental impacts and provided practical support to projects which outweigh any negative operational impacts.   Our positive approach to diversity and inclusion will have led to a demonstrable increase in diversity across our membership.