Data Collection 2010

October 2012

Two of the main soil threats in European soils are soil erosion and decline in soil organic matter.

The EEA and the European Commission DG Environment have identified these issues as priorities in relation to the collection of policy relevant soil data at European scale. In the context of its European Soil Data Centre(ESDAC) activities and in response to EEA soil data requirements, the JRC is responsible for collection and management of European soil data in collaboration with EIONET members.

Soil Organic Carbon

In 2010, the European Soil Data Centre(ESDAC) invited the Primary Contact Points (PCPs) of EIONET to contribute to a data collection campaign of EIONET-SOIL in order to develop the European datasets for soil erosion and Soil Organic Carbon(SOC). There was no legal obligation for the EIONET member countries to participate and PCPs and NRCs for soil contributed on a voluntary basis. Twenty(20) countries expressed their interest to participate in the project, of which eight(8) countries were interested to deliver data in the future.

In cooperation with the EIONET countries, the ESDAC adopted a "light" data collection protocol that allowed collecting SOC and soil erosion data on the basis of a grid of 1km x 1km cells that were assigned to each country. For each cell, countries had to provide their best estimate of SOC content and soil erosion pertaining to that cell. The national grid follow the specifications suggested by the technical co-coordinators for the implementation of INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community.

Regarding SOC, the cell values had to express the OC density (t ha-1) in the soil for the depth range of 0-30cm (including the organic H horizons) and the gravimetric SOC content (in %) in the cell for the same depth range. The EIONET data providers were also requested to include explicit meta-data that would allow the correct interpretation of the cell values. The information requested in the meta-data include the period of the ground survey(s), the method used for a spatial interpolation of point data and the land use types covered .

On the basis of the EIONET-SOIL data collection exercise, the communication with the PCPs and NRCs of participating countries, and the analysis of the submitted data, the following statements can be made:

  • Seven (7) countries submitted soil data with a variable degree of detail. This group included: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia.
  • Three (3) countries provided data with coverages less than 50%. This group included: Bulgaria, Estonia, Norway. A further three (3) countries communicated that they own relevant point-located sample or soil profile data but claim to lack the necessary expertise and/or the staff resources and/or some important additional data (covariates) in order to perform spatial interpolations and develop a complete coverage dataset. This group included Ireland, Serbia, Switzerland
  • Seven (7) countries own relevant soil SOC data which may need some further processing in order to be able to deliver them according to the established protocol. The PCPs expressed their good will to participate and/or have delivered summarized/degraded data, unfortunately not in a format to be integrated in an overall EU dataset.
  • The other 18 EIONET countries did not reply or declared that they do not own the requested soil data and/or refused to deliver data due to legal issues or other restrictions.

Regarding the SOC stocks [OC density (t ha-1) in the soil for the depth range of 0-30cm], Six (6) Countries provided data with coverage more than 50%. This group included Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia

The Soil Organic Carbon(%) Map (0-30 cm). Download the map as JPEG or as PDF.


Table 1: The Soil Organic Carbon SOC content(%)

Country Country Coverage with SOC Value (%) Average SOC Content (0-30cm) (%) Max SOC Content (0-30cm) (%) Standard Deviation (%) Survey period, method and land use covered
Austria 64.8 2.7 53.3 3.3 Period: 1970's
Method: Kriging
Land: agricultural
Belgium 100 1.9 4.6 0.8 Land: all
Denmark 100 2.0 58.0 1.5 Period: 2000's
Method: 45,000 points interpolated Kriging in 250m x 250m cell.
Land: all land areas
Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige & Veneto) 10.0 3.1 22.5 2.3 Period: 1991-2006
Method: 2 regions in northern Italy with SOC content data.
Land: non-urban areas.
Netherlands 77.3 3.5 19.3 2.6 Period: 1989-2000
Method: Selection of sites
Land: agricultural
Poland 70.1 2.6 49.7 4.0 Period: Mid 1990's
Method: Extrapolation to polygon from point data.
Land: agricultural
Slovakia 54.0 1.3 50.0 1.1 Period: 1961- 1970
Method: Spatial interpolation
Land: agricultural

The comparison between the EIONET-SOIL and OCTOP dataset for the 7 countries with spatial data on SOC content has identified differences based on the method used to generate spatial data of SOC. The possible 3 reasons for having such different results between OCTOP and EIONET-SOIL datasets can be the following: Difference due to a)Peat, b) conditions of OCTOP Pedo-Transfer Rule(PTR) and c)mapping procedures.

Table 2: The Soil Organic Carbon(SOC) stock(Tg)

Country Country Coverage with SOC stock Values Average OC 0–30 cm(t C ha-1) SOC stock (Tg)
Bulgaria 100.0 28.0 315.2
Denmark 100.0 86.4 370.6
Italy 57.6 56.3 993.9
Netherlands 77.3 100.1 298.8
Poland 70.1 79.6 1,752.7
Slovakia 54.0 45.3 122.3

For more information and full documentation about the EIONET soil organic carbon data collection (you can request a reprint from the Author):
Panagos, P., Hiederer, R., Van Liedekerke, M., Bampa, F. (2013) Estimating soil organic carbon in Europe based on data collected through an European network, Ecological Indicators 24, pp. 439-450.

Similar analysis for the soil erosion data of the EIONET data collection has been implemented in 2012. The results of the EIONET data collection 2010 were discussed in the EIONET meeting, Ispra (Italy), 10-12 December 2012 and are presented in the EIONET soil erosion section.