Soil mapping, digital soil mapping and soil monitoring over large areas and the dimensions of soil security – A review

Arrouays, Dominique; Mulder, Titia; Richer-de-Forges, Anne C.


Soil Security includes dimensions, soil capability, soil condition, soil capital, soil connectivity and soil codification (the “five C's”). This article provides a short review on how soil mapping, digital soil mapping and soil monitoring systems (SM, DSM and SMS) over large areas contribute to these five C's at scales ranging from country to globe. Changes and the evolution in aims of SM, DSM and SMS were driven both by main issues related to policy priorities and associated advances in science and technology. This review shows that SM, DSM and SMS can provide the basis for assessing soil capability and condition over large areas, especially if we assume that capability mainly depends on rather stable soil attributes. Repeated DSM or SMS are appropriated tool to monitor changes in soil condition at these scales. They may even allow mapping changes in soil capability. However, broad-scale SM, DSM and SMS have not yet fully achieved the provision of information concerning the delivery of some soil functions and soil-based ecosystem services. Although significant progress in estimating the capital dimension of soil security has been achieved, there is need to progress monitoring changes in soil capital. Broad-scale SM, DSM and SMS has great potential to increase soil connectivity. The main challenge is adapting our language and our communication to the target audience. There are encouraging initiatives to enhance soil codification. Codification issues are largely driven by the political agenda, there is still an urgent need to increase soil connectivity, especially towards citizens, NGOs and policy-makers.