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European Soil Bureau (ESBN) > Soil Profile Analytical Database

In order to enhance information about soils in the SGDBE, a Soil Profile Analytical Database was complied in 1993-94 (Madsen and Jones, 1995). This database, called SPADE 1 contains soil profile characterisations with physical and chemical analyses. The initial objective was to compile data for the dominant STU in each SMU, from representative soil profile data selected by the experts in each contributing country.

Initially difficulties arose because compilation of the data had begun prior to finalisation of the SMUs for the whole of Europe (some geographical coverage was added in 1995-97 after the SPADE 1 project had finished). There were other problems of data harmonisation across country boundaries and some countries, bound by confidentiality, were unable to release georeferenced data. To overcome the latter problem, the decision was made to define two different kinds of profiles, for each STU and record estimated and/or measured soil profile data depending on availability (Madsen and Jones, 1995).

The estimated soil profile data were based on expert judgement that these data are representative of the modal concept of an STU rather than a georeferenced profile. As such the estimated data are, based on the average of various observations and expert knowledge, which are essentially more appropriate. The measured soil profile data are derived directly from georeferenced soil profiles that have been described and sampled in the field, and analysed in the laboratory.

For estimated profiles the analytical methods are defined to facilitate trans-national comparisons. For measured profiles, the analytical methods were coded and missing values identified.

Because of the inherent spatial variability of soil, estimated soil profile data should provide the data that best describe each STU. Lambert et al. (2003) describe revised procedures for compiling soil profile data, based on the knowledge gained after completion of version 3.2.8 of the Soil Geographical Database of Europe. However, recently work (in 2001-4) has concentrated on SPADE 2, a revised version of the Soil Profile Analytical Database, containing estimated profile data for the dominant and sub-dominant land uses for the country SMUs. A beta version of SPADE 2 is almost complete (Hollis, pers comm., 2005) but there are still gaps in the geographical coverage. However being land use specific, the data will be much more useful for thematic studies than SPADE 1 data.

"Soil Profile Analytical Databases for Europe": at European level, two databases with soil profile analytical data exist; SPADE-1 and SPADE-2.

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European Commission - Joint Research Centre
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