Land & Water

FAO Soils Portal

The FAO Soils Portal (FAO-SOILS) provides a gateway to various aspects of soils information. It explains, with links to a variety of publications, the concepts, diversity, degradation, and importance for agriculture, biodiversity, construction, as well as its role in mitigation of/adaptation to climate change.

The comprehensive overview of survey methods  includes  brief explanations of important physical properties  (soil structure, depth, available soil water, texture, color, consistency, porosity, bulk density) and biological properties (nitrogen and carbon cycle), as well as methods of soil classification by international and national systems, mapping, soil sampling and laboratory analysis.

A section of the portal is dedicated to the availability of global, regional, national and sub-national soil maps and databases,which include soil profiles. Through its field projects FAO has built up a large collection of scanned soil and land legacy maps from more than 70 countries, which can be searched and downloaded from the portal.

The ‘soil biodiversity’ section highlights the central role of soil organisms as driving agents of nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.

The section on soil management recognizes a number of specific soil types (so-called ‘problem soils’) with special management needs, such as sandy soils, highly organic soils, acid soils, salt-affected soils and others. In addition, attention is drawn to the impact of changes in the soil carbon sequestration potential on climate change and how improved agricultural practices can help mitigate the latter.

FAO has been a long-standing promoter of soil conservation practices to reverse soil and water degradation and raising agricultural productivity and is an important partner in the global WOCAT network. Through the LADA project FAO has also advanced the use of approaches for the assessment of land degradation at local, national and regional levels.

In a section on soil policies FAO draws attention on the importance of soil governance by national and local governments and has published important policy documents such as the World Soil Charter and the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management.

Source (link)
Global, Regional, National
Documentation/Manuals, Educational materials, Framework/Guidelines, Maps/GIS
Global, Regional, National
Support tools
Assessment and mapping tools: Land, Soil, Crop, Water
Thematic areas
Soils - distribution and properties, Soils - management and conservation
User Category
Technical specialist, Scientific advisor, Stakeholder