Regional Soil Partnerships trained in compiling and harmonising legacy soil data

Workshop and participants (Click to view larger picture)

Soils provide ecosystem services and need to be managed sustainably. The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) has been initiated by the FAO to support and facilitate the development and implementation of global and regional Soil Information Systems through the establishment of Regional Soil Partnerships. The enhanced regional soil information will be used to update 1) the Harmonised World Soil Database (HWSD) and 2) complete the World Soil and Terrain databases (SOTER) and 3) produce Soil Property maps according to GlobalSoilMap.net specifications. The aim of thes initiative is to gradually enhance the quantity and quality of world soil information at various resolutions.

ISRIC – World Soil Information  is an active partner in the GSP. In that capacity, it provides training during regional workshops, organized under the auspices of FAO/GSP, to support the compilation of harmonised soil databases, drawing on available legacy data. The first workshop was held in Cali, Colombia for the Latin America Soil Partnership (FAO/CIAT 9-13 July 2012) attended by over 30 participants. ISRIC staff also contributed to the training in Amman for the Middle East and North Africa Soil Partnership (FAO/Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan;  13-17 January 2013; 14 participants) on for the Middle East and North Africa Soil Partnership (FAO/Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan). Through these workshops, the GSP supports the development of the “Sistema de Información de Suelos de Latinoamerica Phase I and II (SISLAC)” and the “Middle East Soil Information System Phase I (MENSIS)”. The trainings focused on two subjects: 1) the compilation and standardisation of legacy soil data (both soil profiles and soil map units), and 2) the harmonisation of legacy data according to a common international classification.

Legacy soil data baseline
Legacy soil data baseline (click to view larer picture)

The sessions considered 4 major steps of data compilation:  1) entry of original data, specifying lineage and feature, attribute, method, value and the value domain/unit, 2) data standardisation according to eSOTER, 3) data collation into a SOTER-derived data model  (PDF) and 4) data quality control and harmonisation according to WRB - 2010. Training materials were prepared at ISRIC by compiling legacy soil data from source databases (SOTER and WISE3) as well as on-line source reports and maps. The resulting soil database, with 2565 profiles for SISLAC and 850 profiles for MENSIS, will serve as the starting point for developing the regional soil information systems.