Soil Surveys, Environmental Assessment & Land Management

Land Research - Case Study

New woodland and nature reserve at Langley Bottom

In March 2014, the Woodland Trust acquired 259 ha of land at Langley Bottom Farm in Langley Vale, Surrey. The site is an arable farm set in a rolling chalk landscape, incorporating blocks of ancient woodland, including Great Hurst Wood adjacent to the M25. It is one of four sites throughout the UK that make up the Trust’s First World War Centenary project. The intention for the site is to create a publicly-accessible nature reserve, comprising a mosaic of existing ancient woodland, new woodland planting, natural regeneration and calcareous grassland, protecting the natural landscape for generations to come.

In early 2016 LRA was awarded a contract to conduct a soil survey on the agricultural areas of the site in order to inform the final site design and planting scheme. Soils were investigated using the ‘free survey’ method to classify the soils at series level using the Soil Classification of England and Wales. The topsoil of representative management units was sampled and analysed for pH and macro-nutrient concentrations.

Our report to the Woodland Trust identified significant differences in soil depth, texture, droughtiness, and carbonate content, and included GIS-compatible mapping of soil series and soil depths. The information demonstrated that soil variation is likely to influence woodland and grassland habitat types, and can be used to design planting schemes which encourage habitat diversity across the reserve. We were also able to demonstrate the existence of low nutrient topsoil areas which are well suited to the creation of species-rich calcareous grassland, even within this intensively managed agricultural landscape.


LRA are experts in soil surveys for a variety of applications. If you have a similar project you wish to discuss, or have a related enquiry, please contact Mike Palmer on +44 (0)1509 670570 or