Report: Expansion of the ISRIC—World Soil Reference Collection 2010-2013

Year of publication
Stephan Mantel
ISRIC—World Soil Information has the mandate to create and increase the awareness and understanding of the role of soils in major global issues. As an international institution we inform a wide audience about the multiple roles of soils in our daily lives. This allows informed decisions to be taken by policymakers, the private sector and civil society organisations.
One of the main assets of the institute is the world soil reference collection. It consists of more than 1100 soil monoliths representing the major soils of the world. All soils have a comprehensive set of analytical data. A selection of the monoliths is on display in the World Soil Museum.
An expansion of the collection is planned to cater for soil types or regions that are currently under-represented. The expansion program will involve clustered collection of new soil profile information - profiles, site and soil description, soil analytical and physical analysis, also spectral analyses, and necessary supporting information (e.g. high resolution photographs and soil survey reports).
The work will be implemented in close collaboration with selected partner institutes worldwide, with regional soil-related mandates, to optimize efficiency of time and resources. The proposed project partners include researchers and field pedologists in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America; the project comprises both science-oriented and capacity building sub-components. The full field and laboratory program, which includes the development of a soil information system for storing the data and web-services for distribution of the newly collated data, will require three and a half years from team mobilization.
Upon project completion, a suite of tools/databases, with full instructions on how to use them, will be available from a single web site hosted by ISRIC – World Soil Information, the ICSU World Data Centre for Soils since 1989. All data collected, including imagery, will be freely accessible to the international scientific community, and other specialist user groups, upon completion of the project. The newly collected reference data, and data derived from them, may be used, for example, in support of studies on reducing soil degradation, world food supply, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from soils at national and global scale, thereby creating opportunities for new internationally funded projects. They will also be used to strengthen ISRIC’s educational program through new thematic displays in the World Soil Museum.