eSOTER: Regional pilot platform as EU contribution to a Global Soil Observing System

Call: FP7-ENV-2007-1; Start: 01/09/2008 ; End: 31/1/2012
Duration: 42m; Call- ENV.2007. 
Development of a Global Soil Observing System; 
Consortium: 14 partners from Europe and the world (China + Marocco).

As the European contribution to a Global Soil Observing System (part of GEO), it will deliver a web-based regional pilot platform with data, methodology, and applications, using remote sensing to validate, augment and extend existing data for a global soil and terrain database.

GEOSS plans a global Earth Observation System to meet the need for land resources information, and a global soil and terrain database is identified as a component of an agricultural monitoring system (AG-07-03 in the GEO work plan for 2007-9). e-SOTER is proposed as the European contribution to a Global Soil Observing System, overcoming the present shortcomings of SOTER and providing a Regional Pilot Platform that can be extended worldwide, for example under the proposed Gates Foundation initiative e-SOTER adds value by: 1) using remotely-sensed data both to validate and correct existing survey data; 2) to generate new data surfaces; 3) improving the quality of results of applications previously based on legacy data alone; and 4) providing a web service that delivers both selected data in an easy-to-use format and procedures to compile e-SOTER databases locally and upload these data to the European database if they meet prescribed quality standards. e-SOTER makes use of detailed digital elevation models (DEMs), recent advances in remote sensing, and new analytical tools for landform analysis, parent material detection and soil pattern recognition - both to extend the legacy soil data and to build a framework for new data acquisition. Remote sensing cannot generate, in itself, the same kind of soil pattern as mapped in SOTER – for instance remote sensing is limited in the number of classes it can identify (of the order of 20 compared with the several hundred of soil associations occurring in global maps) (Clevers et al. 2007; Harsanyi and Chang 1994) and only a few remote-sensing techniques can penetrate deep below the ground surface - but the patterns detected by remote sensing are real and meaningful and lend invaluable support to soil survey.


JRC Contribution

JRC is the leader of WP6. JRC is also involved in the creation of an artefact-free DEM for Europe in WP1 in close cooperation with Scilands and application of the landform algorithm to the DEM in WP 1 and WP3; use of RS for determination of soil parent material in WP1 in close collaboration with BGR; running applications in WP5; the development of web services in WP6. Regarding the WP5, JRC managed the expert elicitation procedure on Soil Compaction topic and cooperated with 9 experts. And in the frame of WP5, subsoil compaction susceptibility model was applied on e-SOTER database and on other existing databases (ESDB V2.0 , HWSD v1.1). For the purpose, Jones Soil Compaction Susceptibility Method (Jones, 2003) was carried out on European Soil Database (ESDB V2.0 -WEur, CEur), E-Soter Database (WEur, CEur and Ma - delivered by WP2) and World Harmonized Soil Database (HWSD - for only MA window) to produce inherent susceptibility of subsoil to compaction map/data in windows. Regarding WP6, the objective is development of an e-SOTER dissemination platform. It develops a data dissemination portal for e-SOTER based on INSPIRE principles. Links with existing or emerging international soil platforms will be explored.


Final Project Meeting - Joint Global Soil Partnership/e-SOTER workshop

Final Meeting topic: "Towards Global Soil Information: activities within the GEO Task Global Soil Data
Venue: Rome, Italy
Dates: 20-23 March 2012

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, together with ISRIC-World Soil Information, coordinator of the EU-funded e-SOTER, organized the Global Soil Partnership workshop: 
"Towards Global Soil Information: Activities within the GEO Task Global Soil Data"

The objective of the workshop was to review the state of the art of tools and techniques for mapping soils at global and regional scales as an input for defining future activities under the implementation of the Global Soil Partnership.

The meeting concluded that the e-SOTER project was successfully completed and that a wealth of information was gathered during the project, both in the selected study areas and for Europe overall. It was also decided that the eSOTER findings would be applied for the whole of Europe at 1:1 million scale, which would serve as input for a new version of the Harmonized World Soil Database.

The present workshop report summaries the proceedings of the GSP workshop held at FAO headquarters in Rome from 20th March to 23rd March 2012. The objective of the workshop was to discuss in particular the various aspects of global soil information (Pillar 4 of the GSP) and the related information gathered by the e-SOTER project


  • E-Soter Project website
  • Note: the concepts and techniques developed in this eSOTER project are now being used in a project conducted by JRC aiming at the development iof a SOTER soil database for the Danube Strategy countries, based on a Terrain Units layer that was created using techniques under eSOTER.