Main stages of data standardisation and harmonisation in WoSIS

Lay out


ISRIC is collaboratively developing a centralized and user–focused server database, known as ISRIC World Soil Information Service (WoSIS), that draws on contributions from many data providers. The aims are to:

  • Safeguard world soil data 'as is' (especially for soil legacy data)
  • Share soil data (point, polygon, grid) upon their standardization and harmonization
  • Provide quality-assessed input for a growing range of environmental applications.

The  quality assessed and standardised/harmonised 'shared' are made available to the international community through several webservices. All data managed in WoSIS are handled in conformance with ISRIC's data sharing and citation policy, respecting inherited restrictions.

WoSIS: Towards the standardisation and harmonisation of world soil data

So far some 110,000 profiles have been imported into WoSIS from disparate soil databases; some 79,000 of these are georeferenced within defined limits. This corresponds with over 30 million soil records. The number of measured data for each property varies between profiles and with depth, generally depending on the purpose of the initial studies. Further, in most source data sets, there are fewer data for soil physical as opposed to soil chemical attributes and there are fewer measurements for deeper than for surficial horizons. Generally, limited quality information is associated with the various source data.

Special attention has been paid to the standardization of soil analytical method descriptions with focus on the set of soil properties considered in the GlobalSoilMap specifications. Newly developed procedures for the above, that consider the soil property, analytical method and unit of measurement, have been applied to the present set of geo-referenced soil profile data.


Web services and data flow from WoSIS to the final human user (in prep.)


OGC international Soil Data Interoperability Experiment

WoSIS, version 2.0, was included in OGC's international Soil Data Interoperability Experiment (soil IE) led by Landcare Research (New Zealand), CSIRO (Australia) and ISRIC (Netherlands) with major contributions from the Federation University (Australia), CRA-ABP (Italy), and USGS (USA). Soil IE is working towards an OGC endorsed global Soil Markup Language; these procedures are INSPIRE-compliant.

How to access WoSIS data

A (dynamic) set of standardized data can be accessed freely 24/7 by adding the following WFS (Web Feature Service) connection string in your GIS: http://wfs.isric.org/geoserver/wosis/wfs. Procedures for accessing the data using QGIS and R are explained in the tutorial; additional information is provided here.

Further, we serve specific snapshots of the WoSIS data in CSV format with unique identifiers (DOI) for consitent citation purposes.

Subject to further consistency checks, additional WoSIS derived datasets will be released as part of ISRIC’s evolving GeoNode facility in late 2016.

​Contribute data to the WoSIS effort

A wide range of data providers have already contributed data to WoSIS; however, the dataset will only grow with broader participation.

Data may be submitted in various ways:

  1. In case of analogue data, these should be entered using a template with standardised variable names; details are provided in the WoSIS Procedures Manual. Templates for this may be downloaded from:
    - LibreOffice: http://www.isric.org/sites/default/files/template.ods,  or
    MicrosofOffice: http://www.isric.org/sites/default/files/template.xlsx
  2. For large, digital data sets (over thousands of profiles) please send us a message with the URL to the digital data set and accompanying metadata resp. the information (zipped) as attachment.

In all cases, we recommend you contact WoSIS support before preparing a dataset for contribution in order to discuss important details and to ensure that your (and our) time is wisely spent.

ISRIC strongly encourages all contributors to assign a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) to their unique datasets. DOI's provide persistent access to a dataset and assign the dataset a unique identifier which can then be cited in WoSIS. There are several international organisations that issue DOI's such as PANGAEA, a fellow ICSU-WDS member. As of August 2016, DOI's may also be requested from ISRIC for datasets submitted to WoSIS; a data upload facility for this is under development.


Presentations at international meetings
Recent developments concerning WoSIS, set in the broader framework of ISRIC as provider of quality-assessed soil information, were presented at:
  • ​The International Scientific Conference 'Our Common Future Under Climate Change' (CFCCC15, July 2015, Paris; PDF)
  • The Wageningen Soil Conference 2015 on 'Soil Science in a Changing World' (August 2015; PDF). 
  • “Soil data – New developments and applications” organised by the Dutch Soil Science Society (NBV) and ISRIC – World Soil Information (Wageningen, 4 December 2015; PDF)
  • "Enhancing data infrastructure services to sustain Earth Sciences researchers’ needs for a robust science", (SciDataCon2016, Denver,Sept. 13 2016; PDF)

Batjes NH, Ribeiro E, van Oostrum A, Leenaars J, Hengl T, and Mendes de Jesus J. 2017: WoSIS: Providing standardised soil profile data for the world, Earth Syst. Sci. Data 9, 1-14 (PDF)
Ribeiro E, Batjes NH, Leenaars JGB, Van Oostrum AJM and Mendes de Jesus J 2015. Towards the standardization and harmonization of world soil data: Procedures Manual ISRIC World Soil Information Service (WoSIS version 2.0). ISRIC - World Soil Information, Wageningen, 110 p. (PDF)