See more from this Division: S05 Pedology
See more from this Session: Soil Genesis and Classification: I
Tuesday, November 2, 2010: 11:30 AM
Long Beach Convention Center, Room 203B, Second Floor
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Jonathan Hempel1, Erika Micheli2, Craig Ditzler1, Hariharan Eswaran3, Phillip Owens4, Micheal Golden5, Alex McBratney6, Luca Montanarella7, Peter Schad8 and Ganlin Zhang9, (1)USDA-NRCS, Lincoln, NE
(2)Pater K.U. 1, Szent Istvan University, Godollo, Hungary
(3)USDA NRCS, Washington, DC
(4)915 W. State St., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
(5)USDA-NRCS, Washington, DC
(6)University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
(7)Institute for Environmenta & Sustainability, European Commission, Ispra, ITALY
(8)Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Freising, Germany
(9)Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, CHINA
Soil science, unlike many other scientific disciplines, does not have a universally accepted classification system.   Many countries have developed systems to classify their soils, but the results often do not translate well between taxonomic systems. Attempts have been made through efforts such as the FAO Legend for the Soil Map of the World, the World Reference Base for Soil Resources, and Soil Taxonomy to address the need for a globally accepted soil classification system. But so far, this goal has not been achieved. We believe the time is right to form a working group under the auspices of the International Union of Soil Sciences to explore the development of a Universal Soil Classification (USC) system.  Consideration for this new system should be to adopt the most modern systems that have been inherited with a conceptual diagnostic approach, established terminology, and existing structural elements.

A starting point for a USC should come from the most documented existing system.  It should have the highest amount and most accurate data collected to support the science. The sharing of additional existing documentation will represent an excellent starting point for standards will support the development of a USC System. The new system is one that is fair and based on the best science of today and is agreed upon by a group of international experts and political leaders.

The system need to be cognizant and flexible to incorporate new developments.  For example, numerical classification concepts that have been developed over the last 30 years could be investigated and if found fit for purpose, incorporated into the new system.


Soil Scientists from around the world have expressed the desire and need to develop a common USC System.  The future USC should not be solely an academic exercise, but should be developed together with the major agencies supporting soil survey and mapping in the world.  A global soil classification system that will be adopted by the major National soil survey and mapping agencies  will ensure a continuity and consistency of information across political boundaries to assist with some of the more critical environmental issues facing the world today.

See more from this Division: S05 Pedology
See more from this Session: Soil Genesis and Classification: I