PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 66-78.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.01.008

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The review and outlook of digital soil mapping

A-Xing ZHU1,2,3,4,5,6(), Lin YANG3,7,*(), Naiqing FAN3, Canying ZENG1, Ganlin ZHANG8   

  1. 1. School of Geographical Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment, Ministry of Education, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
    3. State Key Lab of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    4. Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographical Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing 210023, China
    5. State Key Laboratory Cultivation Base of Geographical Environment Evolution, Nanjing 210023, China
    6. Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
    7. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
    8. Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
  • Received:2018-01-16 Revised:2018-01-18 Online:2018-01-28 Published:2018-01-28
  • Contact: Lin YANG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.L1624026, No.41431177, No.41471178;Research Project on the Development Strategy of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.2016-DX-C-02;Natural Science Research Program of Jiangsu, No.14KJA170001;Program of Innovative Research Team of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions of China


The spatial distribution of soil reflects its formation and development. Digital soil mapping is a new and efficient technique to represent the spatial distribution of soil, which has experienced a rapid development over the last three decades. The theoretical bases are the soil forming factor theory and the first law of geography. Researchers have done significant work on the generation of environmental covariates, soil sampling methods, mapping methods, and production and evaluation of soil maps. The application cases are from small areas to big regions, even at the global scale. Future directions for digital soil mapping include: new techniques for depicting environmental covariates, especially for expressing human activities; efficient use of new data and legacy data; the reconciling of pedometric knowledge and mathematic models; and new computation ways supporting the use of big data.

Key words: spatial distribution of soil, digital soil mapping, environmental covariates, soil-environment relationship