Newly revised topsoil standard is published

12 May 2015

BSI, the business standards company, has revised BS 3882 Specification for topsoil. This standard supports the landscape industry by reducing the risk of multiple user-driven specifications.

Topsoil is a vital component of most landscaping and planting projects, its quality and composition can lead to the success or failure of a project. A standard which offers requirements and guidance for topsoil composition and transportation is therefore essential. 

What BS 3882 does:

  • Sets out requirements for topsoil classification and composition
  • Specifies characteristics such as texture, acidity and contaminants
  • Includes information on sampling and analysis
  • Advises about soil handling to ensure topsoil is not degraded during excavation, delivery or placement 

The standard covers multipurpose topsoils, acidic, calcareous and other specialist soils that are moved or traded. 

What has been changed?

  • The standard has now been revised, to align with BS 8601:2013 – Specification for subsoil – and to reflect user experience and growing knowledge 
  • Test parameters have been revised to reflect the increased use of composted green waste
  • A new organic matter test has been introduced that is less damaging to the environment and health, and is cheaper

David Fatscher Head of Market Development for Sustainability at BSI said: “Standards are revised regularly to ensure that they are current and appropriate to the matter they are addressing. BS 3882 provides requirements and guidance on the composition and transportation of all types of topsoil. By specifying BS 3882, customers will achieve better outcomes for most landscaping and planning projects.”

Dr Tim Evans, Committee Chair for BS 3882 said: “It is a nice coincidence that BSI should publish the latest revision of BS 3882 Specification for topsoil  in 2015 because it is the International Year of Soils. Soil is vital for growing plants, filtering rainwater, exchanging gasses and many other ecosystem services. The standard has been revised to reflect experience in using the preceding versions, the changing market for and manufacture of topsoil and the introduction of BS 8601:2013 Specification for subsoil and requirements for use which it complements.”

BS 3882 was developed using a consensus-based approach harnessing the expertise of professionals such as The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS), WRAP (Waste And Resources Action Programme), as well as the landscaping industry, academia and government bodies. 

BS 3882 is relevant to companies and individuals involved in architecture, construction, private/commercial development, environmental/geotechnical consultants and assessors, forestry, agriculture and landscaping professionals amongst others.