Course module: SOTER methods for soil mapping

Course title: SOTER methods for soil mapping
Course code: ISRIC-SOTER
Subject areas (Curriculum): Soil science, soil mapping, global and regional soil databases
Duration: 0.5 days
Short description: The SOTER (SOil and TERrain) program aims to establish a World Soils and Terrain Database, at scale 1:5M, containing digitized map units and their soil and terrain attribute data in a standardized format. The programme is implemented by FAO, UNEP and ISRIC, under the aegis of the IUSS, in collaboration with a wide range of national soil institutes, since 1986. ISRIC plays a lead role in methodology development and programme implementation. This course introduces participants to SOTER. The lecture gives a short history of SOTER program, provides an overview of SOTER products, discusses the methods to construct a SOTER database, explains the database structure, and shows several examples of SOTER databases and their applications. In addition, e-SOTER project and methods and the Harmonized World Soil Database are discussed. In the computer practical participants will take a closer look at a SOTER. The database will be used to map carbon stocks.
Moderators: B. (Bas) Kempen
Target audience:
  • BSc, MSc and PhD level students working primarily with soil data.
  • Professionals in soil or environmental sciences with an interest in using regional and global soil databases.
  • Familiarity with the R language for statistical computing is not required but will ease the computer practical.
  • Basic understanding of pedology and soil classification systems (FAO 1988 Revised Legend, WRB) is advantageous

Lecture (1.5h)

  • Introduction to SOTER
  • SOTER mapping approach and database structure
  • Examples of SOTER databases and database applications
  • Introduction to e-SOTER and the Harmonized World Soil Database

Computer practical (2h)

Objective: After completion of this introductory course participants should: 1) have an understanding SOTER, SOTER methods and the SOTER database structure, 2) know how to apply the database to generate soil information using the statistical software R, and 3) be familiar with the concepts of e-SOTER and the Harmonized World Soil Database.
Software / materials:
Case studies:

SOTER for Southern Africa

Download course materials:


SOTER concepts and procedures

SOTER mapping

SOTER applications


Minimum number of participants:  10
Maximum number of participants:  25