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Garden Soil



  • Healthy soil is crucial to ensure life on Earth. It is essential for ecosystem services and functioning, access to clean water, socioeconomic structure, biodiversity, and food security for the growing global population.

  • Healthy soils will help to mitigate climate change's effects and reduce the consequences of extreme events such as floods and droughts.

  • Healthy soils influence the hydrologic cycle via its consequences on transpiration, water infiltration, and soil water evaporation affecting land-atmosphere interactions.  

  • Plant growth is severely impeded in “unhealthy” soil leading to reduced crop productivity. Desertification, soil organic carbon cycle modification, and worsening economic opportunities, which may lead to human migration, are only a few detrimental consequences of unhealthy soils.



The concept of soil health is still evolving. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines soil health as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans [link].” 

Soil Health is necessary for sustainable land and soil management as a part of a wider green transition. It links various disciplines, from agriculture and soil science to policy, environmental health, economy, and society. A resource nexus approach is required to study soil health because it looks at the soil holistically and considers the interrelationship between different resources (such as water, energy, and nutrients), anthropogenic activities, and climate. Therefore, such an approach is necessary to understand the complex interactions among different resources and how they could be managed to improve soil health sustainably.

Recognizing the importance of soil health, Mission Board’s proposal for Soil Health and Food to the European Commission in 2020 sets several objectives to improve soil health and preservation. Those objectives include reducing land degradation, conserving and increasing soil organic carbon stocks, no net soil sealing and increasing the re-use of urban soils for urban development, reducing soil pollution and enhancing restoration, erosion prevention and improving soil structure, reducing the EU global footprint on soils and increasing soil literacy among students, land managers, advisors, and consumers. This illustrates the multidisciplinary nature of soil health and the need for the nexus approach for soil health to integrate sustainable management across sectors and scales [link].


The available methods and monitoring tools to quantify and evaluate soil health are not well defined and urgently need systematic representation. This is because monitoring and quantification of soil health are challenging. 

The links below direct you to key parameters and the associated datasets influencing soil health. This list is not inclusive, and additional parameters could be added depending on the availability and resources.


FAO Soil Portal

Covers a wide range of soil characteristics at the global scale. The harmonized world soil database (HWSD) includes over 15,000 soil mapping units. 


International Soil Reference & Information Centre (ISRIC) 

Generates open soil data such as bulk density, texture, PH, nutrients, EC, salinity, calcium, carbon conent, water holding capacity, organic matter, etc.



Covers over 1000 active and historic flux measurement sites globally, representing changes in soil water storage, energy balance, carbon dioxide, and methane fluxes.  


USDA Web Soil Surrvey (WSS)

Sponsored by NOAA, NCEI, and NIDIS, this project is developed by independent scientific programmer James Adams on his GitHub account. It contains Python algorithms of various climate indices (SPI, SPEI, PET, PNP, etc.), which provide a geographical and temporal picture of the severity of precipitation and temperature anomalies useful for climate monitoring and research. Several experimental algorithms for other indices (PDSI, scPDSI, PHDI, Z-Index, and PMDI) are also presented.


3D Soil Hydraulic Database of Europe

 Includes information on the soil water content at the most frequently used matric potential values, saturated hydraulic conductivity, Mualem-van Genuchten parameters of the moisture retention and hydraulic conductivity curves at spatial resolutions of 250 and 1000 meters.


European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC)

Joint Research Centre (JRC) aims to become the single reference point for and host all relevant soil data and information at the European level. ESDAC contains several resources organized and presented in various ways: datasets, services/applications, maps, documents, events, projects, and external links.


UKCEH Countryside Survey

UKCEH Countryside Survey is an integrated national monitoring programme of the countryside for Britain. It began in 1978 providing information on the temporal variation of plants, soil, woodlands and water bodies.

Get to Know Soil Health AID Members

You can consult with the AID group leader or any members for your regional, national, and global datasets, tools, and analytics projects and questions.


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