LUCAS: Land Use/Cover Area frame Statistical Survey

Following a decision of the European Parliament, the European Statistical Office (EUROSTAT) in close cooperation with the Directorate General responsible for Agriculture and the technical support of the JRC, is organising regular, harmonised surveys across all Member States to gather information on land cover and land use. This survey is known as LUCAS (Land Use/Cover Area frame statistical Survey). The name reflects the methodology used to collect the information. Estimates of the area occupied by different land use or land cover types are computed on the basis of observations taken at more than 250,000 sample points throughout the EU rather than mapping the entire area under investigation. By repeating the survey every few years, changes to land use can be identified.

In 2009, the European Commission extended the periodic Land Use/Land Cover Area Frame Survey (LUCAS) to sample and analyse the main properties of topsoil in 23 Member States of the European Union (EU). This topsoil survey represents the first attempt to build a consistent spatial database of the soil cover across the EU based on standard sampling and analytical procedures, with the analysis of all soil samples being carried out in a single laboratory. Approximately 20,000 points were selected out of the main LUCAS grid for the collection of soil samples. A standardised sampling procedure was used to collect around 0.5 kg of topsoil (0-20 cm). The samples were dispatched to a central laboratory for physical and chemical analyses.

Subsequently, Malta and Cyprus provided soil samples even though the main LUCAS survey was not carried out on their territories. Cyprus has adapted the sampling methodology of LUCAS-Topsoil for (the southern part of the island) while Malta adjusted its national sampling grid to correspond to the LUCAS standards. Bulgaria and Romania have been sampled in 2012. However, the analysis is ongoing and the results are not included in this data collection. The final database contains 19,967 geo-referenced samples distributed in 25 countries. The data are freely available and can be downloaded after prior registration from the Data section.

The report "LUCAS Topsoil Survey: methodology, data and results" provides a detailed insight to the design and methodology of the data collection and laboratory analysis.

All samples have been analysed for the percentage of coarse fragments, particle size distribution (% clay,silt and sand content), pH (in CaCl2 and H2O), organic carbon (g/kg), carbonate content (g/kg), phosphorous content (mg/kg), total nitrogen content (g/kg), extractable potassium content (mg/kg) , cation exchange capacity (cmol(+)/kg) and multispectral properties.

While the LUCAS approach is designed for monitoring land use/land cover change, potential bias in the sampling design may not necessarily capture all soil characteristics in a country. Finally, a customised application has been developed for web browsers that allow users to view and query the LUCAS dataset in a variety of ways. 

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Find below the distribution of 19.967 points in the 25 Countries:

Country No of Points
AT 420
BE  71
CY  90 
CZ  431
DE 1947
DK  232 
EE  220
ES  2696
FI  1716 
FR  2952 
GR  491 
HU  497 
IE  233 
IT  1333
LT  356 
LV  349
NL  211
PL  1648 
PT  476 
SE  2696
SI  112
SK  268 
UK  942


LUCAS in Eurostat Website

Documentation - Publications

The documentation associated to the data is available from the report: 
- Tóth, G., Jones, A., Montanarella, L. (eds.) 2013. LUCAS Topsoil Survey. Methodology, data and results. JRC Technical Reports. Luxembourg. Publications Office of the European Union, EUR26102 – Scientific and Technical Research series – ISSN 1831-9424 (online); ISBN 978-92-79-32542-7; doi: 10.2788/97922"

Peer-reviewed publications relevant to the data:

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Title: SPADE/M
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Point Data
Year: 2004

Title: LUCAS 2009 TOPSOIL data
Resource Type: Datasets, Soil Point Data
Registration requested: Request Form
Year: 2013