New paper released: Ten challenges for future of Pedometrics

25 May 2021
On the 25th anniversary of their field, pedometricians stand together at the Pedometrics Conference in Wageningen. This newly released paper proposes an agenda looking ahead to the next 25 years of pedometrics. 

In a recently released Geoderma paper, ISRIC – World Soil Information Senior Researcher Gerard Heuvelink joined lead author Alexandre Wadoux, based at the University of Sydney in Australia, along with seven other co-authors in putting forth the top ten challenges for the field of pedometrics.  

Pedometrics, which is the application of mathematical and statistical methods to the study of the distribution and genesis of soils, was founded in 1990. It is a relatively young area of science and thus rapidly evolving. The ten challenges posed in the paper offer an agenda for a maturing field of study.  

“The idea is to tell pedometricians that there is more than digital soil mapping to tackle. We have the digital tools, techniques and capacities to contribute to many aspects of soil science,” said lead author Alexandre Wadoux, a research associate at the Sydney Institute of Agriculture who earned his PhD here at ISRIC – World Soil Information and Wageningen University. 

The big challenges put forth by the paper include: 

  • Can we develop a quantitative and numerical global soil classification that unifies the existing systems and enables transfer between them? 

  • In what ways can we use data-driven models to learn about pedological processes? 

  • Can we measure soil properties more efficiently? 

  • Can we find ways to express the uncertainty of predictions of soil properties or class allocations which are meaningful to the users of those predictions? 

  • How can we quantify soil contributions to ecosystem services with a framework enabling both local and regional soil management? 

This ambitious agenda for the future of pedometrics also calls for pedometricians to work in an interdisciplinary manner, helping scientists in diverse areas of soil science and also outside of soil science to apply the power of pedometrics into their own questions. 

“While scientific development is often unpredictable and has many features of a random walk, defining ambitious goals helps to focus and guide long-term pedometrics research. With this research agenda we also reach out to other soil science disciplines, because many of the challenges need to be addressed in a joint effort,”  said ISRIC’s Gerard Heuvelink, who also holds the title of special professor of pedometrics at Wageningen University.    

The ten challenges listed in this new Geoderma paper were selected collaboratively through a participatory process with the pedometrics community. For some of the challenges, Wadoux pointed out that all the necessary methods and technology are available, it's just a matter of investing resources into it.  

Access the paper here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2021.115155