Project promotion materials:

Project Members:

Peter Wilson (Lead Researcher,

Daniel Miller (Project Manager,

ANDS Contact:

Alan Glixman (

Project Status:


CSIRO – National Soils Data Collection


Project Description

Over the last 25 years CSIRO has been collecting and curating data about Australian soils. Much of the data collection has been funded by various state and federal government departments over the years through a large number of research projects. Each project in turn has delivered various research outcomes including research papers, government reports and databases that CSIRO researchers have brought together under the banner of the Australian Soils Research Information System (ASRIS - However, in order to be considered a truly national system the platform needs to broaden its appeal to a wider community across Australia interested in soils data. Also, in order to make the transition from a research system to a well-supported collection of national significance, considerable engineering re-work will be required to lift the current platform up to a maturity level where it can be considered production ready.

There has also been a significant reduction in public investment in new soil data over the past decade. New data are often constrained spatially and temporally and in terms of the attributes collected (e.g. sampling only for carbon in the top 30cm, or a single program to look at acidification rates in the WA wheat-belt). As such, the data available to support regional and national modelling, such as through the TERN Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, are often inadequate. They do not give a comprehensive and timely view of the current status of soils, the trend or magnitude of change, or the likely impact of soil related management issues on agriculture, infrastructure or the environment.

The private sector has been collecting soil data for specific purposes (e.g. fertiliser decisions, infrastructure development, and through community based natural resource management funding) for many years. It is variously maintained in private, commercial and community data bases by numerous organisations and individuals. The ownership, access rights and accessibility of such data is largely unknown but often contested, usually with commercial benefit and privacy issues restricting its use. However, this data is likely to be spatially and temporally extensive and (within constraints of quality and completeness) highly valuable as an additional source of data relevant to local, regional and national soil analysis initiatives.

Bringing this data together to allow more comprehensive access will provide a truly ‘national’ collection of soils data. It will support improved decision making and innovation. Activities to achieve this are both technical and cultural.

Aim of the project
To create a nationally significant living soils data collection which:
- is running on enterprise managed infrastructure
- is backed by services over the data and metadata which promote and support the visibility and (re)usability of the data
- maintains the alignment with the needs of other contributors and users from the national soils community

The starting point for the national soils data collection are the CSIRO data, the National Soils Database (Open section) and the National Soils Database (Secure section). Through this project this base collection will become a living national soils collection to be expanded by data collections from other parties in the soils community.

Data Type:

Soil specimens