I applied for the Brian Chambers Soils Fund grant in February 2023 in order to attend A Practical Introduction to Soils in England and Wales which was being held at Shuttleworth College in April 2023. As a student, I thought that attending this two-day training day would be great for my confidence and knowledge, which is why I used the funding to attend and further my education. The training covered two days, from 9am until 5pm. The first day covered the foundations skills associated with working with soil. A large part of the morning introduced soil forming processes and the factors. The learning materials which we were given were outstanding, very easy to read to a non-professional and helpful in any industry. Additionally, the first practical session focused on hand texturing, describing soil colour using the Munsell colour book, testing for calcareous soils, classifying stoniness, and looking for mottles. The second practical session took place outside involved describing the site with slope, shallow profile pits and augering techniques. The majority of the second day took place outside digging pits in three different soil types (silty clay, peat, and sand). We were split into groups of four while the lecturers came round to each group to discuss the number of horizons, the horizon types, and the soil group. This allowed each person to have individual learning and to be exposed to expert knowledge. My attendance at the training has improved my confidence when working with soil and assured me that my initiative and knowledge is correct. The training course highlighted that I need to increase my understanding of geology and parent materials and link it to how this effects soil characteristics. The materials which we were supplied with, such as The Fragile Skin: Soil Landscape of the UK, the course manual, and the Soil Survey Field Handbook, can be used as an educational resource and literature to refer to in my career.
My highlights in this training course would be mainly on the second day. I felt that my pit describing skills developed massively and I can use these during my career. I felt like I excelled with texturing, colour description as well as keeping in mind other factors which would affect the soils characteristics, such as groundwater and land use. If BSSS decided to host an Agricultural Land Classification, Soil chemistry or a geology training course, I would believe that the course content would be better suited to me as a well-educated soil student. In conclusion, I am very grateful to have been awarded this grant to be able to attend this training course. It was a great interactive course which provided me with confidence surrounding the knowledge I have already learnt during university and while on my placement in industry. On reflection, I will be concentrating my training time on geology and understanding parent materials. By doing this I can return to my final year at university with a well-versed knowledge of soil as well as be a better job role candidate once I graduate. I would like to thank the British Society of Soil Science as well as ADAS in supporting me through my early career.
A picture which illustrates a clay soil which is slightly gleyed and mottled with an abundance of FMC’s (Ferri-manganiferous concretions)
To find out more about the Society’s upcoming training courses, please visit our Soil Training page.
To find out more about the Brian Chambers Soil Fund and other grants, please visit our Grants page.