Irish Soil Information System: application of novel and traditional techniques in soil survey

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Resource or Project Abstract

The Irish Soil Information System (Irish SIS) project was established in 2008, following a comprehensive inventory of Irish soil data compiled by Daly and Fealy (2007), which had highlighted that soil data coverage of Ireland was incomplete in both detail and extent. The Irish SIS project was funded under the Environmental Protection Agency STRIVE Research Programme 2007-2013 and co-funded by Teagasc. It was led by Teagasc with the participation of researchers from Cranfield University (UK) and University College Dublin. The overall objective of the Irish SIS project was to conduct a programme of structured research into the national distribution of soil types and construct a soil map, at 1:250,000 scale, which would identify and describe the soils according to a consistent national legend. This map is now available in digital format and forms the basis of a new soil information system for Ireland (

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Rachel Creamer

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Data, Files, Information Objects Related To This Project Resource

This resource has SEMI-PUBLIC availability. This means that the metadata for the resource is available to the public but the data files and information objects connected to the resource are not. There are currently 1 data files and/or information objects connected to this resource. You will need to contact the owners of this resourceto seek their consent to access the files. Contact information for the owners of this resource can be found in the Responsible Parties information section of the metadata.


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordssoils, mapping, classification
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2007-S-CD-1-S1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeLand-use, Soils, and Transport
Resource Availability: Non Owner-Users Cannot Download Files from This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceNONE
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 0
Project Start Date Sunday 15th June 2008 (15-06-2008)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 15th June 2008 (15-06-2008)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 15th October 2015 (15-10-2015)
Published on SAFERMonday 4th January 2016 (04-01-2016)
Date of Last EditMonday 4th January 2016 at 14:24:29 (04-01-2016)
Datasets or Files Updated On Monday 4th January 2016 at 12:54:41 (04-01-2016)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The Irish SIS project adopted a combined methodology of utilising novel predicted mapping techniques in tandem with traditional soil survey applications. This unique combination at a national scale has resulted in the development of a new national soil map for Ireland. Building upon the detailed work carried out by the An Foras TalĂșntais (AFT) survey (known as Terra Cognita), the Irish SIS project generated soil-landscape models at a generalised scale of 1:250,000 for the counties of Carlow, Clare, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary South, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, West Cork, West Mayo and West Donegal. These soil-landscape models (also referred to as soilscapes) were used as the baseline data for statistical models (random forests, Bayesian belief networks and neural networks) to predict soil map units in counties where there was no map available (referred to as Terra Incognita). To validate the methodology, this work was supported by a 2.5 year field survey, in which 11,000 locations were evaluated for soil type, using an auger bore survey approach. These data were used to check the predicted soil mapping units (associations) for counties: Cavan, Dublin, East Cork, East Donegal, East Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary South and Wicklow, where a detailed soil survey map was not available. Where new soil information was generated, due to previously unknown combinations of soil-landscape units, profile pits were selected at representative locations across the country. These 225 pits were described and sampled in detail and were used to generate a new soil classification system for the country. The final product is a unique combination of new and traditional methodologies and soils data from both the AFT and the Irish SIS project. The final, soil association map of Ireland consists of 58 associations (excluding areas of alluvium, peat, urban, rock or marsh) that are made up from 213 soil series. Associated representative profile information is available in the online soil information system.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
This project was developed following a scoping study by Daly and Fealy which identified a lack of coherence in digital data for soils at a national scale.
Supplementary Information
Soil formation is dependent upon geology, climate, vegetation, altitude, landform shape and finally management over time. The soil landscapes we see in Ireland today are a consequence of the changing climatic conditions over the last 100,000 years (with periods of glaciation, the last of which was 12,000 years ago) and the management of land by farmers. Using information about the geology, climate, landform and vegetation, this project has been able to develop the key relationships found between soils and these key factors in Ireland and uses it to predict areas of soils that had not been previously mapped in detail (i.e. by the original soil survey (An Foras TalĂșntais (AFT)) which took place between 1950s and 1990s and covered c. 44% of Ireland). This work was followed up by a 2.5-year field survey describing the soils found in previously unmapped areas. The final product is a national soils map at the 1:250,000 scale, derived from a unique combination of new and traditional methodologies and soils data from both the AFT and the ISIS project; and an associated soil information system which will be available to all.
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