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Soil information, from the global to the local scale, has often been the one missing biophysical information layer, the absence of which has added to the uncertainties of predicting potentials and constraints for food and fiber production. The lack of reliable and harmonized soil data has considerably hampered land degradation assessments, environmental impact studies and adapted sustainable land management interventions. Recognizing the urgent need for improved soil information worldwide, particularly in the context of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol for soil carbon measurements and the immediate requirement for the FAO/IIASA Global Agro-ecological Assessment study (GAEZ v3.0), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) took the initiativeof combining the recently collected vast volumes of regional and national updates of soil information with the information already contained within the 1:5,000,000 scale FAOUNESCO Digital Soil Map of the World, into a new comprehensive Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). This database was achieved in partnership with: • ISRIC-World Soil Information together with FAO, which were responsible for the development of regional soil and terrain databases and the WISE soil profile database; • the European Soil Bureau Network, which had recently completed a major update of soil information for Europe and northern Eurasia, and • the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences which provided the recent 1:1,000,000 scale Soil Map of China.
ISRIC World Soil Information is compiling legacy soil profile data of Sub Saharan Africa, as a project activity of the AfSIS project (Globally integrated Africa Soil Information Service). http://africasoils.net/services/data/soil-databases/ Africa Soil Profiles database, version. 1.0 (April 2012) identifies less than 15700 unique soil profiles inventoried from a wide variety of data sources. From the less than 14600 profiles that are geo-referenced, soil layer attribute data are available for less than 12500 and soil analytical data for less than 10000 profiles. The database includes, but is not limited, to the soil attributes specified by GlobalSoilMap.net. Soil attribute values are standardized according to e-SOTER conventions and validated according to routine rules. Odd values are flagged. The degree of validation, and associated reliability of the data, varies because reference soil profile data, that are previously and thoroughly validated, are compiled together with non-reference soil profile data of lesser inherent representativeness. Updated milestone versions of the dataset have been posted online and made available to the project serving as input to the soil property maps generated by AfSIS. The continuously growing dataset will also be made available through the World Soil Information Service upon continuation of the project activity. The version is released here is version 1.0., the latest version is 1.1.
Version 1.2 of describes a harmonized dataset of derived soil properties for the world. It was created using the soil distribution shown on the 1:5 million scale FAO-Unesco Soil Map of the World (DSMW), rasterised at 5 by 5 arcminutes, and soil property estimates derived from the ISRIC-WISE soil profile database, version 3.1. The dataset considers 19 soil variables that are commonly required for agro-ecological zoning, land evaluation, crop growth simulation, modelling of soil gaseous emissions, and analyses of global environmental change. It presents ‘best’ estimates for: soil drainage class, organic carbon content, total nitrogen, C/N ratio, pH (H2O), CECsoil, CECclay, effective CEC, base saturation, aluminium saturation, calcium carbonate content, gypsum content, exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP), electrical conductivity, particle size distribution (i.e. content of sand, silt and clay), content of coarse fragments (less than 2 mm), bulk density, and available water capacity (-33 to -1500 kPa). These estimates are presented by FAO soil unit for fixed depth intervals of 20 cm up to 100 cm depth (or less when appropriate) for so-called virtual profiles. The associated soil property values were derived from analyses of some 10,250 profiles held in WISE using a scheme of taxonomy-based taxotransfer rules complemented with expert-rules. The type of rules used to derive the various soil property values have been flagged in the database to provide an indication of the possible confidence in the derived data. Most map units on the DSMW are complex, comprising up to eight different soil units. Assessments and model applications that use the derived soil properties therefore should consider the full map unit composition and depth range. The soil property values presented here should be seen as best estimates based on the current selection of soil profiles in WISE, the procedure for clustering the measured data, taxotransfer scheme used for deriving soil, properties, and the spatial data of the digital Soil Map of the World. The derived information may be used for exploratory assessments at a broad scale (greater than 1:5 million; 5 by 5 arcminutes and coarser), pending the global update of the information on world soil resources at more detailed scales, upon due consideration of the underlying generalisations and assumptions. Note: A more recent assessment, at a resolution of 30arcsec (WISE30sec), is available at: http://data.isric.org/geonetwork/srv/eng/catalog.search#/metadata/dc7b283a-8f19-45e1-aaed-e9bd515119bc