Professor Colin Campbell, Director of Science Excellence at the Institute, said the move is in line with what the Scottish Government and the James Hutton Institute have been doing for the last 4 years.
“This is very welcome news and could make a big difference if the data is easily searchable and organised well. There are all sorts of benefits in making more data freely available as more users will find new applications, spot errors we can fix and connect different data sets together to further the science and increase the number of applications.”
Professor Campbell cited the development of soil apps by the James Hutton Institute as a successful example of access to open data.
“We’ve had a great response for example to our soil smartphone apps which let people locate their soil type and compare their soil quality to the Nationals Soils database to help manage soils better. One of our apps using the free data also allows you to calculate how much soil C is in your soil simply by taking a photograph. There are many more new possibilities if more people get access.
“The James Hutton Institute is fully committed to open access and the number of scientific papers we publish in open access journals is increasing every year. This is a great way of democratising and sharing science as long as people are aware of the inevitable uncertainties that go with data and they interpret the data with rigour and care.”
The Institute has abundant experience in soil and crop research and also hosts Scotland’s National Soils Archive, which is a reference to the state of the soils in the past and is used to test new analyses and monitor changes in soil over time. To make this data available to land managers, farmers and the general public, the institute has developed two smartphone apps and a website in partnership with Ricardo-AEA for the Scottish Government.