Students learn about soil sampling at a new laboratory at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. (Photo: GIS)

After analysing the soil at dozens of sites across Tortola, a testing team led by a United Kingdom professor recently moved on to Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda.

Officers from the Department of Disaster Management have been working with colleagues in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to carry out the ongoing Virgin Islands Comprehensive Soils Study, according to Government Information Services.

The Darwin Plus-funded project is led by Dr. Richard Teeuw, a professor of geoinformatics and disaster-risk reduction at the University of Portsmouth in England.

Most recently, the team collected soil samples and tested the water permeability at three locations on JVD and six on VG. Anegada fieldwork is scheduled to get under way early this month.

Project’s purpose

The project, which was launched last November, is designed to help inform decision-making for disaster-risk reduction and to gather data to help with land-use decisions related to conservation, building and agriculture, said DDM Senior Technical Planning Manager Melanie Daway.

“Fieldwork for this project represents the diversity of soil types on Tortola and on key locations on the sister islands,” Ms. Daway said. “This means that the final data mapped and shared will reflect the information needs of the partners and other stakeholders.”

VI partners include the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change; the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; the Environmental Health Division; H. Lavity Stoutt Community College; the Land and Survey Department; the National Parks Trust; and the Town and Country Planning Department.


So far, the study has helped train 23 public officers and farmers in soil sampling, soil analysis and soil chemistry, according to GIS.

It has also helped establish the territory’s first local soil analysis laboratory, at HLSCC. Additionally, 46 high school and college students have been trained in basic soil analysis and soil chemistry in the laboratory, GIS stated.

The study is expected to wrap up in March 2024.