iSOIL - Interactions between soil related sciences -
Linking geophysics, soil science and digital soil mapping

iSOIL: Interactions between soil related sciences – Linking geophysics, soil science and digital soil mapping

iSOIL- Interactions between soil related sciences – Linking geophysics, soil science and digital soil mapping is a Collaborative Project (Grant Agreement number 211386) co-funded by the Research DG of the European Commission, within the RTD activities of the FP7 Thematic Priority Environment.
An essential prerequisite for site-specific soil protection and restoration, alongside sustainable land use, water management, and environmental management, is the availability of high-resolution soil property maps. In most cases, current European soil databases do not provide maps in sufficiently detailed resolutions and they are based on different soil mapping standards. Therefore, a strong need exists to develop coherent databases and efficient technologies for (Digital) Soil Mapping. Conventional, sample-based soil property mapping is very time-consuming, cost-intensive, subjective and data collected can only be utilized for discrete points in a landscape. For several reasons, sample-based soil mapping can therefore be said to be inadequate for large scale investigations.
Consequently, a key component of the iSOIL project was the development of cost- and time-efficient methodologies for mapping soils (mainly up to 2m depth) at an adapted resolution, which can be reasonably applied over large areas. The iSOIL project tackled the above mentioned challenges head-on by combining and integrating the following techniques: (i) high resolution, non-destructive geophysical (e.g. Electromagnetic Induction (EMI), spectral induced polarization, gamma ray spectrometry, magnetics, seismics) and spectroscopic (e.g., visible and near-infrared spectroscopy - VNIRS) methods, (ii) mapping and modelling concepts associated with Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) and pedometrics, as well as (iii) optimized soil sampling linked to soil scientific and (geo)statistical strategies.
Due to the work within the project iSOIL geophysical sensing technologies, their validation, exportation, and related data processing tools for an improved measurement precision for the application in soil mapping were improved. Maps of soil properties, functions and threats are relevant to and required by the stipulations set out in the “Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection” Paper (COM(2006)231 final). We started to develop, validate and evaluate necessary concepts and strategies for transferring measured physical parameter distributions into such spatial maps at the field scale. This included the analysis of sensor combinations to derive soil properties, which was most crucial for providing valid, high resolution and transferable results. A further key component was to follow a hierarchical approach for data collection, validation and implementation. Later the concepts were transferred to the landscape scale taking landscape structure and different types of land use into account.
Substantial progress has been made i.e. in the development of Geophysical Pedo-Transfer Functions (GPTFs), capable of linking (combinations of) geophysical data with specific soil properties and characteristics. We conducted a well calibrated mixture of theoretical developments of novel GPTFs and empirical verification and testing.
The integration of geophysical and DSM methods into soil function and threat modelling was successfully demonstrated by modelling of soil organic matter, the assessment of C and N stocks of soils and their potential decay and potential contribution to nitrate leaching, long-term modelling of the impact of acid deposition on forest soils, calculation of biomass production, evaluation of erosion and improvement of parameterization for crop models.
We used the CEN workshop of the European Committee for Standardization to establish a widely accepted voluntary standard for a best practice approach using one geophysical method, electromagnetic induction measurement. The title of the CEN Workshop is: ‘Best Practice Approach for electromagnetic induction measurements of the near surface’

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Important Information

Project ended in November 2011

CWA 16373 "Best Practice Approach for electromagnetic induction measurements of the near surface" is published and available at CEN or DIN Berlin

iSOIL data are available at

iSOIL is a member of the SOIL TECHNOLOGY CLUSTER of Research Projects funded by the EC

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