September 8, 2017

Digital mapping techniques to improve knowledge of British soils

Soil scientists at the James Hutton Institute are working to create the first unified digital map of soil properties within Great Britain, a development which will contribute to worldwide Global Soil Map projects and improve the data available to researchers and stakeholders in Britain and beyond to be used for many different projects.

Supported by the Macaulay Development Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, PhD researcher Grant Campbell (Cranfield University/James Hutton Institute) aims to improve the scale of Scotland and England and Wales soils data by using digital soil mapping (DSM) and modelling algorithms with environmental data for a range of stakeholders.

Grant explains: “Current soil information is often insufficient to address major global issues such as food security, water resource management and climate change mitigation. In many places, much of the existing soils information is outdated and of poor resolution but in Great Britain we have a wealth of soils data we can use to develop and test methods to help provide adequate information in those data-poor areas.

“We hope to provide stakeholders with improved soil information, maps, models and data products, which may help them in developing strategies and policies for improved land management and resource use.”

The project will produce unique unified datasets across Scotland and England and Wales with future potential wide scale use for many different stakeholder groups such as academics, ecologists and hydrologists, building upon Scottish and GB intellectual capacity in terms of soils information and understanding.

Additionally, it is hoped to incorporate key soil properties such as pH and soil texture into specific soil functions, such as carbon sequestration. This project also seeks to make a significant contribution to the FAO Global Soil Partnership and GlobalSoilMap initiatives, which aim to generate digital global soil map products at 100m grid scales.

Digital soil mapping describes a set of techniques including the creation and population of spatial soil information systems using field and laboratory data, accompanied by additional environmental data (or covariates). For more information on the project and other related initiatives, visit the Dirt Doctors blog.

Article source: James Hutton Institute