Soil and terrain information is important to make accurate decisions on land use and to calculate for example the risk for future land degradation. It is the base information for many applied research projects. Soil and terrain information is often not standardized and difficult to access. Therefore the SOTER (SOil and TERrain)program was initiated in the nineteen nineties by the IUSS and the methodology, using standard input software, was developed by ISRIC in cooperation with many partners.
SOTER aims to establish a World Soils and Terrain Database, at scale 1:1 million, containing digitized map units and their attribute data in standardized format. These soil area-class maps are generally based on existing soil information (maps and profiles), enhanced by data derived from other natural resources information (digital terrain models, soil parent material, remote sensing images).
An update of the methodology is currently done by the e-SOTER project , particularly in the field of landform classification using DTM, parent material and soil characterization using medium-resolution RS images.
SOTER data have been used for a wide range of applications, including assessments of impacts of soil degradation on food supply, soil vulnerability to pollution and modelling of soil organic carbon stock and changes at national and regional levels .