Digital Soil Mapping as a Support to Production of Functional Maps


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Numerous environmental and socio-economic models (risk assessment, scenario testing, etc.) require soil parameters as inputs to estimate and forecast changes in our future life conditions. However, the availability of soil data is limited on both national and European scales. Soil information (i) is either missing at the appropriate scale, (ii) its meaning is not well explained for reliable interpretation, or (iii) the quality of the data is questionable.

Easy-to-interpret-and-use database is needed for the future to support decision making and modelling on the EU scale. The Land Management and Natural Hazards Unit within the EC JRC is the major soil data provider to the potential users, like EEA. However, the available database often fails to provide the necessary soil parameter for the users. In order to fulfill the user requirements, a new generation of soil information, digital soil database has to be initiated that makes use of the state of the art data collection and spatial interpolation techniques. JRC (with the support of ESBN) and EEA have launched a joint work plan on “Digital soil functional mapping” to define the soil data requirement specifications and a route map to implement steps towards a spatial soil database development framework and digital soil functional mapping. In order to support this activity, ESBN has decided to setup a working group.

The WG was founded at the ESBN Plenary meeting held in Ispra, November, 2004, to serve as an advisory board for inventorying and monitoring soil properties and functions needed to support the planned legislative proposal for the protection of soil (Soil Framework Directive). The major goals of the working group:

1. to advise ESBN/JRC on Digital soil mapping activities
2. to identify potential data sources, database formats for the state of the art of soil information systems
3. to advise on database harmonization and database building for traditional and DSM needs
4. to communicate the results and techniques of DSM towards soil science community and data users
5. to define the needs for digital soil functional mapping, its terminology and framework to be setup.

More specific goals were identified later on the WG meetings after the communication with JRC and EEA. The work has been organized into two work meetings. The first meeting was held in April 7-8, 2005 in Miskolc Hungary. The objective of this meeting was:

- to launch the working group activities,
- to specify the concrete tasks, actions,
- to define a work plan needed to fulfill the mandate of the WG,

The road map defined on this meeting is:

1. To create a state of the art report on digital soil mapping: its tools, data needs, quality measures and data validation techniques. The first draft of this report was to be ready for the second meeting in Prague for review by the group. The final version was to be presented to EEA and JRC by mid November.

2. To develop a technical work plan with concrete specifications of the data/model availability and needs, estimated output data accuracy, and financial and organizational needs to run the test and the models. Following the conclusions and specifications of the state of the art DSM report and the Soil Information Working Group (SIWG) report. This task depends on the inputs from the SIWG and to be completed in 2006.
The second meeting was held in October 13-14, 2005, Prague. The major goals of the meeting were:

  • to finalize the State of the art DSM book chapters
  • to conclude the major tasks identified by the subgroups/chapter authors and review
  • to comment and complement the SIWG report with a proposal of DSM procedure able to support the needs/requirements/specifications identified by the report for the five soil threats
  • to harmonize the terminology of the major terms with the EEA

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