World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils)

The remit of the World Data Centre for Soils (WDC-Soils) is to provide a focus for soil-related collections and information services.  Our holdings include soil specimens, country documentation, as well as a range of geo-referenced databases. They can be used to underpin a wide range of studies of environmental, societal and economic sustainability.


Trusted broker of soil information

ISRIC is a regular member of the World Data System (WDS). The World Data System (WDS) is an Interdisciplinary Body of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The mission of the WDS is to support ICSU’s vision by promoting “long-term stewardship of, and universal and equitable access to quality-assessed scientific data and data services, products, and information across a range of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, and the humanities.”

ICSU-WDS aims to build worldwide ‘communities of excellence’ for scientific data services. It certifies Member Organizations —holders and providers of data or data products— from wide-ranging fields by using internationally recognized standards.

WDS Members are the building blocks of a searchable common infrastructure, from which a data system that is both interoperable and distributed can be formed. As such, member organizations of ICSU-WDS have a strong and tangible commitment to open data sharing, data and service quality, and data preservation.

Member reports are presented on a regular basis at the WDS Members' Forum as part of the 3-yearly re-accrediation process. An overview of our workflows for safeguarding, quality-assessing, standardising / harmonising and serving soil point data to the world, using FAIR pinciples, is available here. Recently, we assessed 'How well is the WDC-Soils serving its user groups?' as a contribution to SciDataCon-IDW2018 (PDF).

On 24 July 2018, we were certified as a trusted data repository (PDF) by the CoreTrustSeal Board, this as part of the 3-yearly ICSU-WDS regular member re-accreditation process.


Members of ICSU-WDS are registered as a Participating Organization of the Intergovermental Group on Earth Observations (GEO). 



2014 WDS Members' Forum (02 Nov. 2014, Jawaharlal Nehru University Convention Centre, New Delhi)


WDC-Soils holdings

Within the WDS, ISRIC provides the focal point for soil-related collections and information services, as custodian and creator of global soil information. We maintain and safeguard a range of soil specimen holdings (monoliths, samples, thin sections, and hand specimens) through the World Soil Museum. Another important element of ISRIC’s work as WDC-Soils is the data rescue programme. This programme is aimed at safeguarding older (legacy) data (maps, reports, point data) which may be at risk of loss or deterioration, and digitizing these materials for on-line distribution. These and newer materials, as contributed/shared by our partners, provide the 'raw' data for further quality control, standardisation, harmonisation, and analyses in order to serve the international community with quality-assessed soil data (point, polygon, grids). These materials may be consulted on site at our premises in Wageningen and/or on-line through our website. 


Some 23 years after its inception, in 1989, ISRIC obtained the status of ICSU World Data Centre in recognition of its "unique collection of soil monoliths, maps and reports on the geography of soils and related natural resources". Initially named WDC for Soil Geography and Classification, it was later renamed to WDC-Soils to reflect the broadened scope of its long-term soil data stewardship. 

Since 2011, ISRIC is a regular member of the ICSU World Data System. In recognition of its long-term soil data stewardship, and role of trusted broker of world soil information, it has kept the name “WDC-Soils”.