Turkey’s first online soil information system to be accessible to farmers and policymakers

Farmers and policymakers will be able to access soil data and information through a national soil information system

With soil inventory reports dating back decades, soil data in Turkey is incomplete, fragmented and inaccessible to a broad range of crucial actors such as farmers and policymakers engaged in the agriculture sector.

In order to enhance the quality and availability of soil data and information, under the FAO-Turkey Partnership Programme (FTPP), a project is being implemented to establish a consolidated national soil information system which can be accessed online through a web-based Geographical Information System (WebGIS) by farmers, land users, researchers and decision-makers.

“The main impact of this project,” said Ines Beernaerts, FAO Land and Water Officer, “is to ensure sustainable and productive use of Turkey’s soil resources for food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation in the medium to long term.”

FAO is providing technical assistance to the Soil, Fertilizer and Water Resources Central Research Institute, an acting body of the Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock. With the help of FAO’s recognized soil expertise, the Ministry’s research staff are being trained on soil organic carbon analysis, digital soil mapping and the development of a web-based GIS portal for soil data sharing and dissemination.

Turkey’s soil legacy 

This will be the first soil information system established in Turkey open to all key actors in the agriculture sector. “In addition to the soil database, what is important is that information will now be easily accessible to farmers, scientists and policymakers,” said Beernaerts. “Both farmers and policymakers will have access to reliable data in order to make better investment decisions for the preservation and sustainable management of soils.”

All soil samples from the Ministry’s archive —some 8000, have been analyzed since 2012 for data related to fertility, texture, salinity, organic carbon and bulk density.

“Turkey does not have a national soil carbon stock map, which is vital to prepare ourselves for the potential consequences of climate change,” said Bulent Sonmez, National Project Coordinator and the Head of the Research Department on Soil and Water Resources under the Ministry’s General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policy.

It is essential to have data on the levels of carbon in our soils because soils play an important part in maintaining a balanced carbon flow at a global level. Soils have a direct role in capturing greenhouse gases whose increased levels in the atmosphere are one of the causes of climate change. 

“We have information on soil fertility, but it is not up to date,” Sonmez said.  “Without knowing the physical and chemical properties of soils; it is difficult to assess the levels of land degradation, desertification or soil contamination in a country.” 

The project is on its way to meeting one of its key outputs, which is the completion of a national soil carbon map. The mapping system for soil fertility will also shortly be finalized and ultimately all of the data will be shared online with users.

As a part of 2015 International Year of Soils activities, following the Eurasia Soil Partnership meeting in Turkey in mid-June, the final workshop of the project will be held. FAO aims to highlight the importance of soils, which is also included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda as being the “foundation for sustainable agricultural development, essential ecosystem functions and food security.” 

(16 January 2015, Ankara, Turkey)


Geographical Information System (WebGIS)

Eurasia Soil Partnership


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