Online map to understand our soils

Farmers and land managers wanting a better understanding of the soils that underpin New Zealand’s economy, land use and ecology will now have access to an online tool developed by Landcare scientists.

[image] Smap online. S-map Online is a digital soil map developed with MSI funding. It provides fast and simple access to New Zealand soil data. The map will allow users to:

  • explore interactive maps of soil properties such as soil drainage and available water
  • learn about the soil on their land  
  • view detailed information about soil classes or attributes
  • create custom PDF soil maps for printing
  • for specific locations, download soil factsheets which provide more detailed knowledge of soil properties and information relevant to a variety of potential uses.

Existing soil databases are patchy in scale, age and quality. Many maps do not adequately describe the underlying properties of the soil types they represent. When complete across New Zealand, S-map will for the first time provide consistent and comprehensive national soil data layers to support local and regional councils, primary industry, education and science research programmes.

Landcare Research’s Programme Leader Allan Hewitt says there are plans to further develop S-map Online so users can develop their soil knowledge and ultimately make better informed and more reliable land use decisions. Users have been involved from an early stage in the development of the map to ensure the map responds to user needs.

Dr Hewitt says although the map does not fully cover all productive land across the country, there are already many good examples of its added value. Fertiliser manufacturer Ravensdown’s field staff use the information to improve their understanding of the fertiliser requirements of particular areas of land. And Environment Canterbury is using it to identify areas of soil vulnerable to leaching of contaminants, and the subsequent development of policy.

For more information, visit the S-Map website.