Skip navigation Access keys documentation page Search Agriculture Research Food Research

New Soil Database Website Launched

6 June 2008

A new National Soil Database website (NSDB) has been launched as part of a joint project between Teagasc and the EPA. The new website, available at http://erc.epa.ie/nsdb/, includes an interactive map interface which allows all the data compiled during the soil sampling campaigns to be viewed. Clicking on a point on the map provides access to the data relevant to that sampling site. A sample can then be requested by completing the form available online. Requests will be reviewed by an advisory committee, composed of the National Soil Database Project Partners and international experts.

Dr Micheal Lehane, EPA programme manager, said: "The reports from the National Soil Database will become important tools to inform Ireland’s response to future EU Directives, in particular the proposed Soils Framework Directive. They can also be used in the future to measure the effects of issues such as global warming."

This new website together with a new book "Soil Geochemical Atlas of Ireland", were both produced to publicise the output of 11 years of research on the National Soil Database project.

Between 1995 and 2006, a countrywide geochemical survey was conducted as part of the 'National Soil Database' project. This project sampled 1,310 sites on a national grid, which were analysed for soil organic carbon, pH and a suite of 40 chemical elements. The project has resulted in the production of soil geochemical maps, final and synthesis reports of the research work, an archive of soils samples and extracted nucleic acids and a freely accessible database.

Teagasc researcher Rachel Creamer said: "Understanding soil systems is essential to sustainable management and ensuring that they continue to perform their services for many years to come. This project has established baseline information on the chemical composition of soils and their roles in the environments in which they occur. The study also applied large-scale microbiological analysis of soils for the first time in Ireland and investigated microbial community structure in a range of soil types."

Maps of the major nutrients and elements have been published. In addition, this study has generated a National Soil Archive, comprising both of air-dried soil samples and a nucleic acids (DNA) archive. The report and archive will provide Ireland with a sound, well structured baseline of soil geochemical properties relevant to environmental, agronomic and health-related pressures set against a background of increasing soil protection policies.

The newly published Soil Geochemical Atlas of Ireland presents a user-friendly summary of national baseline soil geochemical data. Soils are discussed in general, as are the influences that have affected, and continue to affect their chemical composition, such as geology, climate and land use. Maps for each of the measured elements and an interpretation of the findings with respect to underlying parent material, glacial geology, land use, and anthropogenic and climatic effects are presented.