Soil Surveys, Environmental Assessment & Land Management

Land Research - Case Study

LRA and Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) – Making the most of mitigation!

LRA have been involved in the DIRFT project from planning through to completion. During the planning stages LRAs input was to provide a baseline of the site; recording land use, mapping soil types and grading 299 ha of land to current ALC guidelines. A large area of the site contained radio masts and other infrastructure from the Rugby Radio Station which restricted agricultural use of the land to grazing only. This meant much of the land was unimproved rough grazing or semi improved pasture with traditional rigg and furrow evident. The south-east of the site was in arable use. The dominant soil type across the site is heavy topsoil over slowly permeable clay with small areas of lighter loam topsoils and upper subsoils.


Ambitious ecological mitigation for the DIRFT expansion was designed in the form of Lilbourne Meadows – 78 hectares of nature reserve with a myriad of woodlands, waterways, green corridors and public rights of way. This challenge required LRAs specialist soil knowledge to identify suitable soil resources across the site to support the complex requirements of the landscaping scheme. The baseline survey informed a sampling plan which picked out areas of the site where soil types varied in texture and drainage, and in fertility, as a result of different land management. 

LRA identified five separate soil resources for reuse within the landscaping plan (three topsoils and two subsoils) and created a map demarcating their boundaries. The suitability of the soils was determined by assessing resource properties (texture, drainage, nutrient content) and comparing this to the needs of different planting schemes (e.g. wildflower grassland, tree pits, open water wetland). The soil resources were then matched up to their most suitable after-use which was summarised in a table using a traffic light system; this showed whether the soils were ‘well suited’, ‘moderately suited’ or ‘not suitable’. Soil management advice (e.g. stripping depths, soil handling, estimated yields and re-emplacement) was provided in the report to prevent resources from being damaged.

The detailed soil information and advice provided by LRA helped to ensure the success of the demanding landscaping scheme and create a piece of green infrastructure that really makes the most of mitigation.

To discuss how we can help you deliver a successful landscaping scheme please contact the office on: 01509 670 570 or email