Topsoil & Subsoil Characterisation

SOCOTEC's experienced specialist chemistry team provides expert analysis of topsoil and subsoil.

Quality topsoil and subsoil should provide good anchorage for plant roots, slowly release nutrients, provide oxygen for plant uptake and drain excess water while retaining enough moisture to sustain plant health during dry periods.

Assessing the quality of topsoil and subsoil is an important aspect of civil engineering, public and private landscaping or remediation projects, public spaces and the farming community.

SOCOTEC assesses topsoil and subsoil quality in accordance with the current versions of BS3882 (Specification for Topsoil and Requirements for Use) and BS8601 (Specification for Subsoil and Requirements for Use) which specify requirements for topsoil and subsoil that is moved or traded. The standards aim to ensure soils are fit for use, safe and healthy for humans, vegetation and the broader environment.


Our Services Include:

SOCOTEC's analytical service provides suppliers of topsoil and subsoil with all the relevant data required to produce a Declaration of Compliance with BS 3882 or BS8601, together with the analytical information. We are also able to undertake testing for potential contaminants in topsoil and subsoil samples.


In order to classify topsoil or subsoil in accordance with BS 3882 or BS8601, SOCOTEC offers the following testing methods:

  • Soil texture percentage
  • Clay content
  • Silt content
  • Sand content
  • Loss on Ignition (LOI)
  • Maximum coarse fragment
  • >2.0mm
  • >20.0mm
  • >50.0mm (>75.0mm for subsoil)
  • pH level
  • Carbonate percentage
  • Available plant nutrient content percentage
  • Nitrogen
  • Extractable Phosphorous
  • Extractable Potassium
  • Extractable Magnesium
  • Carbon/Nitrogen ratio
  • Exchangeable sodium percentage
  • Chemical contaminants
  • Phytotoxic contaminants
  • Zn
  • Cu
  • Ni
  • Visible contaminants percentage
  • Sharps
  • Plastics


For further information or to discuss your requirements, please contact us.