EU Science Hub

LUCAS Soil, the largest expandable soil dataset for Europe: a review

Abstract: 
Soil is a non-renewable resource that requires constant monitoring in order to prevent its degradation and promote its sustainable management. The “Land Use/Cover Area frame statistical Survey Soil” (LUCAS Soil) is an extensive and regular topsoil survey that is carried out across the European Union to derive policy relevant statistics on the impact of land management on soil characteristics. Approximately 45,000 soil samples have been collected from two timeframes, 2009/2012 and 2015. A new sampling round will be undertaken in2018, with new measurements foreseen. The organisation of 2018 campaign represents an opportunity to summarise past LUCAS Soil achievements and present its future objectives. In 2009/2012 and 2015, LUCAS Soil surveys targeted physio-chemical properties, including, pH, organic carbon, nutrient levels and cation exchange capacity. Data from 2009/2012 (ca. 22,000 points) and derived products (more than 20 maps) are freely available from the European Soil Data Centre website. Analyses of samples collected during 2015 are ongoing and data will be available at the end of 2017. In the 2018 LUCAS Soil campaign, additional properties, including bulk density, soil biodiversity, specific measurements for organic-rich soils, and soil erosion will be measured. Here we present the current dataset (LUCAS Soil 2009/2012 and 2015), its reuse potential and future development plans (LUCAS Soil 2018 and over). LUCAS Soil represents the largest harmonised open-access dataset of topsoil properties available for the European Union at global scale. LUCAS Soil was developed as an expandable resource, with new parameters and sampling locations being added over the successive campaigns. Data are available to the scientific community and decision makers, thus contributing to both research and the development of the land-focused policy agenda.