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EU topsoils analysed


11/09/2013

The IES has recently published data and a JRC technical report on the first ever harmonised topsoil sampling exercise carried out on the European Union (EU) as a whole. This exercise was carried out within the Land Use/Land Cover Area Frame Survey (LUCAS).

The periodic LUCAS surveys sample and analyse the main properties of land. The LUCAS Topsoil Survey, which started in 2009 as a collaborative activity carried out by the JRC, Eurostat and DG ENV, represents the first ever attempt to build a consistent spatial database of the soil cover across the EU based on standard sampling and analytical procedures.

Around 20,000 0.5- kg (0-20 cm) samples of topsoil were collected from 25 Member States using a standardised sampling procedure, and were then analysed in a central laboratory. Further samples were provided by Bulgaria and Romania in 2012, but these are still being analysed. The final database contains 19,967 geo-referenced samples.

Based on the results of the survey, the report presents a comparative soil assessment of European regions and countries with a series of maps that show the variation of individual topsoil parameters across the EU, including the soil organic carbon (SOC) content of the EU’s topsoil.

The report shows that there are significant variations in soil properties between different land cover types and different climatic zones. The LUCAS database provides an excellent baseline against which to assess changes in topsoil characteristics across the EU, but full soil profile descriptions (deeper than 20 cm) would be essential to allow the assessment of the dynamics of soil resources in Europe.

Raw data is available for the research community and a customised application developed for web browsers that allow users to view and query the LUCAS dataset is also available to download from the European Soil Portal.

 

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