SOTER(Soil Terrain Database)

Soil data of various scales is needed to well manage our agricultural and environmental resources. On the European level soil information is used for crop monitoring, yield forecasting, agricultural planning, feasibility studies for rural development, natural hazards forecasting, such as floods and landslides or slowly acting processes such as erosion, acidification and other types of chemical, biological and physical degradation of soils. No appropriate scale soil database for the European Union had existed before the late eighties. The strong need for policy support has speed up the database compilation and resulted in the first version of the Soil Geographical Database of Eurasia at scale 1:1 million (SGDBE1M). Despite of its limitations, SGDBE1M is still among the few databases, which serve as a flagship in the development of the small scale spatial databases in Europe. The version 2.0 of SGDBE1M was published recently, in 2004. The refinement of the database and the extension of its geographic coverage to Eurasia and the Mediterranean Africa are in preparation.

A similar soil database would be needed for global scale forecasting, modelling and research. However the only available soil map with a global coverage is the 1 to 5 million scale FAO soil map of the world, which has been compiled from data collected up to the late seventies. Since the completion of the FAO soil map much new data have been documented and new approaches of mapping and database development have been developed. The lack of a standardized, compatible, credible soils database at appropriate scale is a major constraint to global modelling. Therefore, the SOTER (World SOil and TERrain Digital Database) project was initiated by the International Society of Soil Science (ISSS) in 1986 (ISSS, 1986). SOTER is intended to have a global coverage at 1:1 million scale (Batjes, 1990; ISRIC, 1993), which goal was later degraded to 1:5 million scale due to the lack of means. Other international organizations, such as the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC) joined this project and supported the idea of having a global scale soil and terrain database useful for a series of applications. A small international committee was appointed to develop a "universal map legend system" and to define a minimum necessary set of soil and terrain attributes suitable for compilation of a small-scale soil resources map. The database can provide information for a wide range of applications such as "crop suitability, soil degradation, forest productivity, global soil change, irrigation suitability, agro-ecological zonation, and risk of drought” (ISRIC, 1993).

SOTER (SOil and TERrain Digital Database) would replace the only existing global soil database at the scale of 1:1 Million and will be based on existing soil databases. More information can be found in the following references:

Download the complete presentation: (Size: 18.6 MB) of the SOTER database
Presentation Title: How to use SRTM DEM data to delineate the SOTER Terrain Unit system for theEuropean states
Authors: Endre Dobos & Joël Daroussin

Download Technical report (2005) EUR 21571 EN: (Size: 5.3 MB)
Document Title: An SRTM-based procedure to delineate Soter terrain units on 1: 1 and 1:5 Million scales.
Authors: Endre Dobos, Joel Daroussin and Luca Montanarella

Get informed about the results of the first "Digital Soil Mapping working group" meeting