Mapping of Soils and Land-Related Environmental Attributes in France: Analysis of End-Users’ Needs

The 1:250,000 soil mapping program of France is nearly complete. Although mapping has been conducted using conventional methods, there is a discernible need to obtain more precise soil data using other methods, and this is attracting considerable attention. However, it is currently not possible to implement a conventional and systematic program throughout the French territory, as the cost of acquiring new data on a finer scale is too high. In light of this, the Ministry of Agriculture commissioned a national survey to determine the needs of soil mapping in France, which asked questions to soil data producers and end-users. The results presented here summarize the main needs expressed by end-users. The main topics covered by soil mapping applications are identified in addition to the main mismatches between topics currently covered using available soil maps and the needs of end-users. Certain priorities for producing new soil information are identified in relation to geographical environments and settings, soil attributes, the spatial resolution of maps and the use of uncertainty estimates. Digital Soil Mapping is identified as a method that can bridge economic, scientific and practical considerations, but it requires dedicated efforts in order to build capacity. Finally, there is discussion of how the consideration of user needs can be employed to enhance the contribution of a new Digital Soil Mapping era, and to launch an operational soil security paradigm in France.

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