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Data Champion ISRIC: “Harmonizing world soil information”

ISRIC, the international centre for world soil information, is a pioneer when it comes to Data Management. ISRIC has worked on compiling and harmonising data on soils for over 50 years. It makes the data available in a FAIR manner and supports open data where possible. ISRIC is therefore a real WUR Data Champion.


Since 1989, ISRIC has been an independent foundation that provides quality-assessed soil data and interprets world soil information. ISRIC collaborates on several externally funded and co-funded international research projects. Luís explains: “We are not a research institute, but we do a lot of research relevant work and also publish articles.” Although ISRIC is an independent foundation, WUR is proud to have ISRIC on its Campus. As a member of the WUR family, ISRIC has access to WUR IT facilities and to Data Management Support.

During research: working with big data

During research, researchers and guest-researchers store their data on a local ISRIC server. Access to the folders and files is project-specific and limited to project  leaders and project members. SoilGrids (the output of a system for automated global soil mapping) are the main products. “Our work requires vast amounts of storage space, and high memory. A single SoilGrids version occupies over 400 GB of disk space. Soil mapping can take over one month of computing, and therefore, ISRIC hires specific hardware for that purpose for limited periods. We are now looking into the possibility of using Agrogenomics HPC (High Performance Computing) for processing.  Due to the size of the datasets we host , but also to data security reasons, USBs or hard discs are no solution for us.”

After research: the ISRIC-repository and database

ISRIC offers a central location for searching and downloading soil data from all over the world: the ISRIC Soil Data Hub. Through this data hub, users can search in the World Soil Information Service (WoSIS), but also in Africa Soil Grids, SOTER, WISE, etc. ISRIC archives all its data in one of these databases and makes these  available through the ISRIC Data Hub. As part of this process, the data are quality-assessed and standardised. The ISRIC data repositories follow a Data and Software Policy, which describes these procedures. The ISRIC repositories meet sustainability standards and the F and A of the FAIR principles.

ISRIC also encourages non-ISRIC soil data to be submitted to the ISRIC data repository.

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