Capturing and valorising the services of the soil

Consistently collecting high-resolution and reproducible soil information is of crucial importance. It serves the needs of agriculture, forestry, spatial planning, climate adaptation, groundwater protection, as well as initiatives aimed at physical, chemical, and biological soil conservation, and biodiversity preservation. Depending on the specific question or issue at hand, knowledge of soil nutrient and water storage capacity, or the risk of erosion, for instance, can be crucial. Currently, these pieces of information are insufficiently available in the Canton of Bern or in Switzerland.
With this project, the soil characteristics and services are being assessed and this information made available in various applications. Cutting-edge technological advancements in soil data collection and subsequent area mapping will be used to create an innovative and efficient approach to soil mapping. Indicators, issue-specific application maps and instruments, previously unavailable, will be generated for selected large-scale pilot sites. This project is being carried out by the Bern University of Applied Sciences for Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) in close cooperation with the National Competence Centre for Soil (KOBO).
So far, a sampling plan and a four-phase concept for collection of soil information have been developed in a pilot area in the Central Plateau. This progress has been achieved through a combination of exploratory field surveys and statistical calculations. Key actors in this process are local farmers, who have provided additional soil information before and during the fieldwork. As future users of the resulting soil maps, their specific needs and insights are appropriately incorporated.
Moreover, in collaboration with private engineering firms, over a thousand soil borings have been conducted and meticulously described. The valorization of the information gathered, along with the soil science expertise related to the computational generation of soil maps, will remain at the core until the completion of the project.