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Soil surveys

Soil surveys

Those involved in construction will frequently need to commission soil surveys in the early stages of a project.

Over recent decades, soil surveys of land intended for construction have focused on the geotechnical properties of soil, in order to enable the design of building foundations. However, there is a growing emphasis on protecting the upper layers of soil from degradation, such as loss of topsoil by becoming mixed with other materials on site, and compaction of subsoil which reduces its ability to absorb rainfall and increases the risk of flooding.

On greenfield agricultural sites there may also be a need to make an interpretation of the agricultural land grade from the soil survey, in order to meet national planning policy, which seeks to protect the 'best and most versatile' agricultural land from irreversible loss. When developing brownfield sites, planning authorities require a soil survey that focuses on contamination and risks to the environment, site workers and any eventual occupants of the site.

Whether for geotechnical or environmental reasons, the essential common components of a soil survey are desk study/preparation, site survey/investigation, interpretation of findings and reporting results.

This section is maintained by Malcolm Reeve of Land Research Associates Ltd.