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Digital Soil Mapping training in Kazakhstan

Training on digital soil mapping (DSM) for the Eurasian Soil Partnership (EaSP) was held from 31 October to 4 November 2016 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, hosted at the Kazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry.

18/11/2016

This training, the first DSM training to be held in this region, was held in response to three priority areas for the EaSP and GSP. Firstly, capacity development on database use, soil monitoring and DSM is listed as an activity in the 5-year EaSP implementation plan (http://www.fao.org/3/a-bl101e.pdf). Secondly, DSM capacity development, with special reference to the development of national soil organic carbon (SOC) maps, is being implemented as part of a GSP process to develop a Global SOC map by December 2017 and the simultaneous development of a Global Soil Information System (GSIS). Finally, a beta-version of the Eurasian Soil Information System is being developed following the specifications in the GSP Pillar 4 implementation plan and regional DSM capacity is needed to build and support this System. The training was attended by 17 participants representing 11 Eurasian countries and the training was provided by DSM expert, Mr. Luis Rodríguez Lado. The event was opened by Mr. Abdulla Saparov, Director of the Kazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry. To kick off the proceedings, presentations were given by Mr. Oleg Golozubov (Soil Science Department, Lomonosov Moscow State University) to introduce developments in the Eurasian Soil Information System and highlight data management and modelling approaches, as well as Mr. Konstantin Pachikin (Kazakh Research Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry) to introduce a soil information and mapping case study from Kazakhstan. To facilitate training, enable the implementation of advanced modelling, and support future national DSM activities, advanced laptops were donated to the official representative institutions per country. The training was organized in 5 sessions, starting with key definitions in DSM and R programming, and progressing to the preparation of digital databases and the development of real case studies of spatial modelling projects, using in approaches adapted to the project goals. A comprehensive set of analytical steps and modelling methods were provided to develop a DSM project from scratch. The workshop atmosphere fostered open discussion of the workshop material and specific DSM challenges experienced by some participants in their own work. The workshop also provided a platform for informal discussions between the countries regarding the needs to support and contribute to the Eurasian Soil Information System. Special attention was given to the modelling of SOC and a relevant toolbox was provided to enable its mapping using well prepared datasets. It is therefore envisaged that countries will continue to build on the knowledge gained during this training to develop national SOC maps in support of the Global SOC map, thereby also contributing to the GSIS under GSP Pillar 4.