Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
17 Jan 2017
 | 17 Jan 2017

WoSIS: providing standardised soil profile data for the world

Niels H. Batjes, Eloi Ribeiro, Ad van Oostrum, Johan Leenaars, Tom Hengl, and Jorge Mendes de Jesus

Abstract. The aim of the World Soil Information Service (WoSIS) is to serve quality-assessed, georeferenced soil data (point, polygon, and grid) to the international community upon their standardisation and harmonisation. So far, the focus has been on developing procedures for legacy point data with special attention to the selection of soil analytical and physical properties considered in the GlobalSoilMap specifications (e.g. organic carbon, soil pH, soil texture (sand, silt, and clay), coarse fragments ( <  2 mm), cation exchange capacity, electrical conductivity, bulk density, and water holding capacity). Profile data managed in WoSIS were contributed by a wide range of soil data providers; the data have been described, sampled, and analysed according to methods and standards in use in the originating countries. Hence, special attention was paid to measures for soil data quality and the standardisation of soil property definitions, soil property values, and soil analytical method descriptions. At the time of writing, the full WoSIS database contained some 118 400 unique shared soil profiles, of which some 96 000 are georeferenced within defined limits. In total, this corresponds with over 31 million soil records, of which some 20 % have so far been quality-assessed and standardised using the sequential procedure discussed in this paper. The number of measured data for each property varies between profiles and with depth, generally depending on the purpose of the initial studies. Overall, the data lineage strongly determined which data could be standardised with acceptable confidence in accord with WoSIS procedures, corresponding to over 4 million records for 94 441 profiles. The publicly available data – WoSIS snapshot of July 2016 – are persistently accessible from ISRIC WDC-Soils through doi:10.17027/isric-wdcsoils.20160003.

Short summary
Soil is an important provider of ecosystem services. Yet this natural resource is being threatened. Professionals, scientists, and decision makers require quality-assessed soil data to address issues such as food security, land degradation, and climate change. Procedures for safeguarding, standardising, and subsequently serving of consistent soil data to underpin broad-scale mapping and modelling are described. The data are freely accessible at doi:10.17027/isric-wdcsoils.20160003.