Our Purpose and Strategy
A world where reliable and relevant soil data, information and knowledge is freely available and properly used to address global environmental and societal challenges.
We help to increase the availability and use of soil data, information and knowledge to enable better decision making for sustainable land management around the world, by:
- Producing information products
- Helping others to do the same
- Providing examples of use
- Educating and raising awareness
We democratise the world of soil information through promoting open science principles: development of open data products, use of open source software and publish results in open access journals.
Through these activities we contribute to solving societal challenges such as sustainably intensifying food production, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and biodiversity conservation.
1. Global Soil Information and Standards
We offer harmonised and quality assessed soil information products targeted to the needs of various global users such as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). We are accredited as the World Data Centre for Soils [https://www.isric.org/about/world-data-centre-soils-wdc-soils]. This is a reflection of our long reputation for providing trustworthy global information products on soils and land. Through our World Soil Information Service (WoSIS) data offering and our flagship system for global digital soil mapping, SoilGrids, we develop new and targeted global-level soil information products.
This workstream is our innovation lab for soil data production, storage, mapping and serving. A major topic for innovation is the development of methods to improve accuracy and the evaluation of soil information products for a more realistic assessment of the results, including combining pedological knowledge with data-driven approaches.
Besides our efforts to improve global predictions of basic soil parameters, we focus on information layers for soil functional parameters, such as carbon stocks, water holding capacity and land degradation indicators. For example see Soils Revealed, a platform we helped create to visualize how past and future management changes soil organic carbon stocks globally.
In partnership, we are working towards the maintenance and development of internationally, recognised standards for handling and serving soil data, for example within the framework of IUSS working groups.
2. Community of practice for soil information providers
We offer capacity strengthening for national soil information providers through training and a community of practice.
We provide group trainings like our Spring School and we facilitate a community of practice for soil information providers through which we provide online resources to guide standards for collection, harmonisation, production and serving of spatial soil data. We build relationships by cooperating one-on-one with national institutions to create soil information products for their national stakeholders.
3. Products and services to support sustainable land management decision making
We offer information services (e.g., models, apps, websites) in support of sustainable land management decision making. We combine spatial soil information with spatial data on various other aspects of land, crop and climate in operational platforms. This is always done in close cooperation with specialists in specific aspects of sustainable land management, such as of land rehabilitation and development, food security, climate adaptation and mitigation, and land use planning. Examples of such information services include platforms to develop fertiliser-use recommendations based on soil, crop and climate data, to determine soil and land capability in support of land use planning, to support implementation of climate-smart agriculture (including carbon sequestration), and to advise on which land management interventions work best where in the landscape and what will be their likely impact. World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), where we have been a key partner for 30 years, is a resource to select sustainable land management measures for specific situations.
4. Awareness, Education and Dialogue
We offer education and awareness programs for scientists, policy makers and general interest groups to increase awareness of the role soils and soil information play in addressing societal challenges. The World Soil Museum is an important instrument for these activities. It is also a place where students and the public are informed about the nature, geographic distribution, management challenges, and beauty of soils. At the World Soil Museum, people learn about the important role soils play in many of the environmental challenges facing the world.
Through dialogues with users of soil information (policy makers, private sector, NGOs and donors), we learn about their needs with a view to provide tailor-made solutions. Through these programs we build an engaged user community that is able to use our products in an effective way, and who can specify their needs for additional soil information resulting in co-creation. This helps us fine-tune product design and develop services with wide application possibilities. We will monitor use of our data and services to determine ISRICs societal impact and help focus future developments.
World Data Centre for Soils
ISRIC is a regular member of the World Data System (WDS) and has been accredited as the World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils) since 1989. Accreditation as the World Data Centre for Soils provides an endorsement for ISRIC’s work on soil information globally, as a trustworthy provider of soil information. Regular WDS re-accreditation helps us to review and improve the quality and transparency of our processes as well as services to the international community.
Scientific research to support methodology development
Our scientific research programme contributes to the development of new and innovative methodologies for the generation of soil data and information products. For example, we co-fund a special professorship on ‘Pedometrics and Digital Soil Mapping’ in collaboration with Wageningen University. As such, we regularly supervise PhD candidates . Results of our work are regularly published in high ranking scientific journals.
Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)
Through the ISRIC Spatial Data Infrastructure we provide access to: (i) a growing range of global information products following FAIR principles, (ii) the soil reference collection and World Soil Museum, and (iii) tools and services developed to support sustainable land management decision making.
Reference Collection and Library
The ISRIC World Soil Reference Collection comprises over 1100 monoliths from 82 countries with supporting morphological and analytical information. The collection was built to show representative examples of the units distinguished in the legend of the FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World.. The collection provides a unique resource for education, correlation and research. In conjunction with this, we maintain a library of 10,000 digitized maps and 17,000 reports and books.
Code of conduct
Discrimination against, and harassment on the basis of an individual’s race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, handicap, familial status, or national origin have no place at ISRIC – World Soil Information. We adhere to transparent, respectful interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds and we are against unethical and/or inappropriate behaviour.
ISRIC is an independent foundation by Dutch law. We are based on the campus of Wageningen University and Research (WUR). We have a service level agreement with Wageningen University, formalising operational support.