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European Soil Bureau (ESBN) > Soil Information System

The core of this system is currently the European Soil Database, based on the 1:1,000,000 scale ‘Soil Geographical Database of Europe’ (Jamagne et al., 2001) that is currently covering Europe.

The database has been recently extended to cover countries in the Mediterranean basin, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belorus and Moldova, formerly part of the Soviet Union (Montanarella, 2001; Stolbovoi et al., 2001).

This new coverage also forms part of the joint Circumpolar Soil Database under development in collaboration with Canada (Agriculture Canada) and the United States of America (USDA-NRCS). This extension will serve as a tool for the more accurate estimation of soil organic carbon pools in the boreal areas and for estimates of potential changes in GHG emission in relation to changes of soil temperature regimes in these areas. A first version of this common Euro-Asian Soil Database is available (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Provisional map extracted from the Soil Geographical Database of Eurasia at Scale 1:1,000,000 (SGDBE).

EUSIS is developing into a multi-scale spatial system integrating data at different levels of detail into a single Geographic Information System (GIS) (King, et al., 1998; Montanarella, 1999).

It forms an essential link in the chain from global scale systems with the 1:5,000,000 scale World Soil and Terrain database (SOTER) (UNEP/ISSS/ISRIC/FAO, 1995) to detailed national, regional and local soil information systems, at scales 1:250,000 to 1:5,000, within the European Union, ensuring a coherent approach from the local to the global scale (Figure 2).

Figure 2: EUSIS responding to users (in blue) needs at different scales (in red)

The system incorporates also a number of pedotransfer rules (Van Ranst et al., 1995) that allow the preparation of derived products, such as soil erosion risk maps, soil organic carbon estimates, susceptibility to subsoil compaction, water holding capacity and many others. More complex models (CGMS) use EUSIS for the early forecast of crop production in MARS, risk of desertification, groundwater vulnerability to agrochemicals, etc. Future developments will improve the links to other environmental databases – land cover/use, elevation, climate, geology and hydrology. Although there is considerable scope for improving the resolution and quality of the data currently incorporated, EUSIS remains the only soil information system covering the entire European continent. The main elements of EUSIS are described in the sections: Soil Geographical Database, Soil Database at scale 1:250,000, Soil Profile Analytical Database, Pedotransfer rules

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European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Marc Van Liedekerke(tel. +39-0332-785179)
Panos Panagos (tel. +39-0332-785574)