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Soil Properties

The ECN protocol for soil properties (S)


Protocol file


Site types that use this protocol


Patterns of soil and vegetation are closely interlinked in areas of natural and semi-natural vegetation, the pattern of vegetation and the distribution of individual plant species both reflecting and influencing the complex interaction of the soil's chemical, physical and biological properties. Changes in soil characteristics may result in changes in vegetation, and vice versa. The link between soils and surface vegetation patterns is largely broken where land is under intensive agricultural management but the inherent soil properties are nevertheless major factors influencing the choice of crops and the type of land management.

Soils also exert a strong influence on surface water chemistry and flow regimes, on gas exchange between the atmosphere and the earth's surface, and on the fate of deposited pollutants. Changes in soils take place naturally over time but can also be driven by alterations in pollution climate and land management.

The Soil Properties protocol is sub-divided as follows:

  • Soil survey and classification (SB).  Initial survey at 1:10 000 or 1:25 000 scales
  • Five-yearly monitoring (SF). Samples from cores analysed for major ions
  • 20-yearly monitoring (SC). Samples from soil pits analysed for major ions,heavy metals and physical properties.

For details of these elements of the protocol see the Soils (S) protocol document (link above).


Our field activities


Now that autumn has arrived the ECN fieldwork calendar begins to quieten down. We cease monitoring most terrestrial invertebrates apart from spiders. In rivers and lakes we make the last freshwater invertebrate survey of the year.

See all this month's field measurements...

Wytham in the autumn (fall). Photo: Denise Pallett