Soil experts welcome publication of topsoil specification update

The recent publication of an updated specification for topsoil, BS 3882:2015 has been welcomed by working group members and soil experts Tim O'Hare and Andy Spetch.

The publication completes many months of input from both O'Hare, principal consultant at soil and landscape consultancy Tim O'Hare Associates, and Spetch, manager at British Sugar TOPSOIL, as members of the BS 3882 Working Group to produce the standard’s third revision since it was first published in 1965.

BS 3882:2015 covers multi-purpose topsoils, and acidic, calcareous and other specialist soils that are moved or traded. It sets out requirements for topsoil classification and composition, specifies characteristics such as texture, acidity and contaminants, includes information on sampling and analysis, and advises about soil handling to ensure topsoil is not degraded during excavation, delivery or placement.

The most notable changes in the Multipurpose Topsoil category are:

  • The upper limit for extractable potassium has been increased from 900mg/l to 1500mg/l

  • The upper level for electrical conductivity has been increased from 2800uScm to 3300uScm and there is no requirement for an Exchangeable Sodium Percentage test.

There are also significant changes to the Specific Purpose Topsoil category, which reflect the new guidance on Low Fertility soils for species-rich, biodiverse habitats.

The standard has been revised to align with BS 8601:2013 – Specification for subsoil, and to reflect users’ experience of previous versions of the standard and growing industry knowledge.

O’Hare and Spetch provided their expertise to help with the revision of BS 3882 as part of a consensus-based approach that harnessed the expertise of professionals such as The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS), WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), the landscape industry, academics and government bodies.

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