I'm looking for global or European scale database / maps of soil properties. Resolution does not really matter even though the higher is the better. By soil properties, I mean:

  • soil textural classes : % of sand, silt, clay
  • soil hydraulic properties: soil hydraulic conductivity, water content at saturation, field capacity and wilting point.
  • soil pH
  • soil organic carbon content
  • soil depth
  • soil color/albedo

I'm interested in any data sources that adress at least one of these properties.


3 Answers 3


From USDA you can get data for different soil types. While their map does not represent the true colours, with the names you could associate colours with the soil types.

I also found soil organic carbon data for Europe here (Excel sheet) but only on the country level. With a shapefile from the EU you could join this data and display it.

And finally if you have a look at main the side of the European Soil Data Centre you can get even more datasets but I assume only for Europe.

  • Thank you. Unfortunately, I can not look at the first dataset (USDA) since it is a IMG file that can only be opened with ArcView (not an open source software). The second file is not detailed enough in terms of resolution (country level). ESDAC could be a good entry point...
    – juminet
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 14:16

There are very nice high-resolution (30 seconds (~1km) and 5 minutes (~10km)) datasets available from the Land-Atmosphere Interaction Research Group at Sun Yat-sen University. It covers several of your desired properties (soil texture, pH, organic carbon etc.) and the data is available in binary or NetCDF format.


Since the moment I've post my question, I did some research and found some databases that nearly fulfill my needs.

1) European Soil Database (Europe-28 + Turkey + neighborhood countries)

The webpages of the European Soil Data Centre have indeed interesting database, such as the European Soil Database, available here. Understanding the database takes some times: here are my notes for anyone interested for using the database:

  • A form must be filled in and the data can then be downloaded after receiving an email. The raw database is contained in a folder (named soilDB_shapefiles_and_attributes). A simplified version, with a shapefile with the joins already performed is available in th e folder ESDB. This shapefile contains about 40 fields.
  • Table 2 of PTRDB_Metadata.doc provides explanations about how some fields were computed using pedotransfert functions)
  • SGDBE_attricod.doc provides most of explanations and classes of fields.
  • shp_sgdbe_and_ptrdb_attributes.xls provides the names of the fields.

2) FAO Digital Soil World Map (Global)

A zip file was downloaded (from here: http://www.fao.org/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home?uuid=446ed430-8383-11db-b9b2-000d939bc5d8) with a shp of the digital soil map of the world. But the resolution of this vector data is bad, with very smooth polygons. The EU soil map has much more classes and a finer resolution.

3) Harmonized World Soil Database (Global)

4) Lastly, there is this excellent page of David Rossiter that references dozens of soil database across the world: http://www.css.cornell.edu/faculty/dgr2/research/sgdb/sgdb.html + this page that references some other resources: http://www.dataset.mapping-sense.com/tagged/Geology%20&%20Soils


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