What is it about?

Soil maps have played an important role in soil science and the study of the Earth in general. Soil maps have been crucial in natural resource management, but today the soil maps available are inadequate. The available soil maps are out of date in two ways: 1) they are based on old observations when we know change has occurred, and 2) modern geospatial technologies make it possible to produce new maps more efficiently, with more detail and accuracy.

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Why is it important?

A lot of agricultural and environmental research depends on the use of spatial soil information. From addressing issues of soil degradation to water quality, soil maps are key inputs for models. Modern geospatial technologies are reinvigorating interest in improving soil maps and should lead to renewed collaborations between soil scientists and geographers.

Perspectives

Soil mapping benefited from multi-disciplinary collaborations that were somewhat forgotten in the latter part of the 20th century. With geospatial technologies spurring renewed interest in improving soil maps, geographers - as spatial scientists - need to engage with soil scientists to make the most of these opportunities. Advancing soil mapping is especially critical today as spatial soil information underpins our knowledge on the state of our natural resources, e.g., crop productivity, water quantity, and water quality.

Bradley Miller
Iowa State University

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This page is a summary of: Progress in soil geography I: Reinvigoration, Progress in Physical Geography Earth and Environment, December 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0309133319889048.
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