The European Commission launched a soil assessment component to the periodic LUCAS Land Use/Land Cover Area Frame Survey in 2009. Composite soil samples from 0-20-cm depth were taken, air-dried and sieved to 2 mm in order to analyse physical and chemical parameters of topsoil in 25 Member States (EU-27 except Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus). The aim of the LUCAS Soil Component was to create a harmonised and comparable dataset of main properties of topsoil at the EU. The LUCAS Soil Component was extended to Bulgaria and Romania in 2012. Overall, ca. 22,000 soil samples were collected and analysed. All samples were analysed for percentage of coarse fragments, particle-size distribution, pH, organic carbon, carbonates, phosphorous, total nitrogen, extractable potassium, cation exchange capacity, multispectral properties and heavy metals. In 2015, the soil sampling was repeated in the same set of points of LUCAS 2009/2012 to monitor changes in topsoil physical and chemical parameters across the EU. The soil component was extended to points above elevations of 1000 m, which were not sampled in LUCAS 2009/2012. Furthermore, soil samples were taken in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Switzerland. The soil sampling was carried out following the instructions already used in LUCAS 2009/2012. Approximately 27,000 samples were collected and will be analysed during 2016 and 2017.
In 2018, a new soil sampling campaign will be carried out within the LUCAS framework. Soil samples will be taken in repeated points of LUCAS 2009/2012 and LUCAS 2015. The novelty of the survey is that new physical, chemical and biological parameters will be analysed. Key parameters for evaluating soil quality, such as bulk density and soil biodiversity, will be analysed. These analyses require specific methods of soil sampling, preparation and storage of samples. Furthermore, field measurements such as the thickness of organic layer in peat soils, and visual assessment of signs of soil erosion will be carried out in 2018. This technical report compiles the instructions for collecting the various soil samples and for performing field measurements in the soil survey of 2018. These instructions will be used for all LUCAS surveyors, to create a comparable database of soil characteristics all over Europe.