Thematic Synthesis TS4: Soil information, methods and instruments


The thematic synthesis looks at the question: which soil information and tools will be needed in future and for what purpose, and how will the gaps in soil data be filled? In addition, it aims to show how soil information benefits society.

Background (ongoing research project)

Greater consideration of soil qualities and ecosystem services for sustainable soil use can only be achievable if quality-related data are available, along with the criteria and key figures needed to assess them. There are large gaps in the data describing the quality of soil in Switzerland today. Only a few cantons collect soil data across the entire canton. In addition, the cantons use different data collection methods and record different parameters. Several projects of NRP 68 have studied soil data collection and harmonisation along with the development of new mapping and assessment methods.


The thematic synthesis is pursuing the establishment of a comprehensive soil information system in Switzerland. Such a system would pool data in view of practical benefits and highlight new mapping methods for filling data gaps. The soil information system would consider existing information and link soil data with models for assessing soil functions and threats to the soil. The synthesis explains the value that such a system would add. It increases our knowledge of soil systems and develops assessment tools, thereby contributing to two or three of the main goals of NRP 68.


The thematic synthesis analyses the results of the relevant projects while also considering other activities relating to soil data, methods and tools at national and international level. Taking into account both classic and digital soil mapping methods as well as remote sensing, the synthesis presents scenarios for the development of a comprehensive soil information system. Based on an assessment of soil functions and ecosystem services, it demonstrates the value added by a comprehensive soil information system, particularly with regard to land-use decisions.

Project lead

  • Dr Armin Keller, Agroscope
  • Dr Andreas Jürg Papritz, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Zurich
  • Martin Zürrer, myx GmbH



Further information on this content



Dr. Armin Keller Agroscope
Standort Reckenholz
Reckenholzstrasse 191 8046 Zürich +41 58 46 87 207