Soil Biomass Productivity maps of grasslands and pasture, of croplands and of forest areas in the European Union (EU27)

This dataset consists of 3 GIS maps that indicate the soil biomass productivity of grasslands and pasture, of croplands and of forest areas in the European Union (EU27)
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This dataset consists of 3 GIS maps that indicate the soil biomass productivity of grasslands and pasture, of croplands and of forest areas in the European Union (EU27) and that corresponds to the figures 4, 5 and 6 from the publication "Continental-scale assessment of provisioning soil functions in Europe", Gergely Tóth, Ciro Gardi, Katalin Bódis, Éva Ivits, Ece Aksoy, Arwyn Jones, Simon Jeffrey, Thorum Petursdottir and Luca Montanarella, Ecological Processes 2013 2:32; DOI: 10.1186/2192-1709-2-32. (

From this paper:

"The degree to which the soil carries out its biomass production service was evaluated on the basis of soil properties under prevailing climatic and topographical conditions. Since productivity is a result of the interaction of soil, climatic, and topographical conditions, these factors need to be assessed in their complexity. In addition to geophysical conditions, soil productivity also depends on the type of land use. The assessment of the European Environmental Agency (EEA 2006) shows that the three major land use types dominating the land cover of Europe are arable land with a share of 33%, pastures and mosaics with a share of 23%, and forests with a share of 29%. The aggregated share of these three types of land uses sums up to 85% of the total land and freshwater surfaces of the 24 countries of Europe assessed by the EEA (2006). Besides these major land use types, there are a number of specific regionally characterized land uses in Europe. There might also be considerable differences in the land utilization within the main land use types. However, for a continental-scale assessment of biomass productivity, the productivity patterns were evaluated according to the three major land use types. Models were therefore developed to describe general orders of soil productivity within the three land use types, namely for pasture/grassland, cropland, and forest. Calculations were performed in a spatially explicit manner, taking climatic and topographical conditions into account. Productivity models were built to reflect rain-fed conditions. The description of temporal variability of productivity or the estimation of provision productivity by means of actual yields was not among the aims. Results are presented in land use–specific maps (e.g., cropland productivity for areas of rain-fed arable lands, forest biomass productivity for forest lands, and grassland productivity for pastures and mosaics)."

The paper outlines the methods and discusses the results in detail.


The calculations in the article above for grasslands and croplands have been made using the tables that are found in SoilProd_model_soiltype_tables.xlsx. Explanation of tables 2 and 4 in this article explains how this excel table can be read. Basically, each soil type has a productivity score, depending on the climate zone of its location. The same soil can have a different score if falls under a different climate and different soils in various climate zones can have the same score. For grassland, as a general approach, inherent productivity was considered (see tables at the top of each sheet in the Excel file). For croplands, the system is a bit more complicated, because also the effect of fertilization was considered (see Table 5 in article). Note: only a small portion of grasslands in Europe, mainly in the BENELUX countries, receive large amounts of fertilizers, but that small detail was not considered in the generalized continental scale study. The effect of fertilization also depends on the soil and climate. Each soil in the climate zone receives a score, which reflects the yield increase by fertilization in the given situation. The inherent productivity score and the fertilizer response score are than aggregated and further modified by the slope factor. This final score shows the crop productivity of cropland, in a relative manner.These scores are mapped out in the productivity map. 



The GIS maps cover the EU27. The maps are Geotiff rasters with resolution of 1km. Coordinate system (ETRS_LAEA_10_52) and alignment of pixels are according to INSPIRE recommendations.

Calculated values (in floating point), as described in the paper, where scaled to scores in the range [0,10] showing the relative fertility of soils expressed in relative index values without unit.

Katalin Bodis (European Commission - JRC) is acknowledged for the preparation of the maps in this distribution.

Below are the corrsponding pictures of the paper.

Figure 4. Soil biomass productivity of grasslands and pastures

Figure 5. Soil biomass productivity of croplands

Figure 6. Soil biomass productivity of forest areas

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