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Thursday 5th October 2023

Uncertainty & Variability


Any measure of soil quality is subject to inherent uncertainty. To monitor soil quality, or predict risks to soil resources, this uncertainty must be understood.

Understanding uncertainty in soils data requires:

  • Matching of indicators with both sample spacing and frequency
  • Quantification of field variability, as no monitoring scheme can sample the same soil twice!
  • Understanding of how aspects of monitoring design influence measures of soil quality

Soils are inherently variable in space and time. An understanding of this variability is required to interpret soils data and to estimate the risks posed by different threats. This understanding is crucial to soil monitoring and policy driven by it.


  • Information on spatial and temporal variability for different indicators of soil quality.
  • Incorporation of this variability into risk estimates made in Module 1.
  • Assessment of usefulness of variability itself as an indicator of soil quality.
  • Appraisal of whether soil type is a useful surrogate measure for other indicators such as soil biodiversity.


Dr. Colin Campbell, Macaulay Institute.

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