Digital Soil Resource Inventories: Status and Prospects in 2015

  • David G. Rossiter
Part of the Springer Environmental Science and Engineering book series (SPRINGERENVIRON)


Eleven years ago, the author published a paper (Soil Use and Management 20(3): 296–301) titled “Digital soil resource inventories: status and prospects,” which concluded that, at the time, the quantity and quality of digital soil survey information at global, national, regional, and local scales was increasing dramatically, however, with several problems such as (1) lack of metadata, (2) limited interpretations for professionals who are not soil specialists, (3) geodesic incompatibility with other digital data, (4) frequent reorganization of Web sites, and most seriously (5) much digital data were proprietary and only available for sale or under license. The current paper updates the situation to mid-2015, with an inventory of publically available soil geographic databases, their coverage, the type of information, and intended purposes. These are summarized in a portal maintained by the author ( With regard to the deficiencies identified eleven years ago, metadata provision is much improved; more products come with interpretations; geodetic incompatibility has largely been overcome by metadata and conversion programs; Web sites still change frequently and are often confusing; and much data are still proprietary or not generally accessible. Over the next several years, several disruptive technologies are predicted to radically change how online soil survey information is collected, compiled, and disseminated. The question of open access to primary data is not resolved.


Soil geographic databases Spatial data infrastructure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Soil and Crop SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.ISRIC-World Soil InformationWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Chinese Academy of Sciences Soil Science InstituteNanjingChina

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