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Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure

Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS) for Soil Health

This straightforward, quick soil test describes how to assess topsoil in three simple steps. Each assessment should not take more than 20 minutes.

The steps are soil removal, soil assessment and soil scoring (see Method Description).

A quality score is given which shows if the soil structure needs to be improved to maintain soil health.

Scoring and assessment require comparison with a 2-page colour chart of differing soil structure and associated soil descriptions – downloadable here.

Go deeper with Subsoil VESS colour chart and see the SubVESS Method Description.

Non-English language and pictures-only versions of VESS can be  downloaded hereSpanishPortugueseNorwegianDanishTurkishFrench; Finnish.

New ‘AgriVESS’ method for extending VESS that is currently being developed by SRUC and international collaborators – downloadable here.

VESS appeared in this recent Royal Society ‘Evidence Synthesis on Soil Structure’ report to help inform the Government’s upcoming Agriculture Bill:

Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure - VESS method

Dr Joanna Cloy


Address: Crop & Soils Systems, Scotland’s Rural College, Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4155