Using homosoils to enrich sparse soil data infrastructure: an example from Mali

Nenkam, A M and Wadoux, A M J-C and Minasny, B and McBratney, A B and Traore, P C S and Whitbread, A M (2023) Using homosoils to enrich sparse soil data infrastructure: an example from Mali. CATENA (TSI), 223. 01-24. ISSN 0341-8162

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Many areas in the world suffer from relatively sparse soil data availability. This results in inefficient implementation of soil-related studies and inadequate recommendations for improving soil management strategies. Commonly, this problem is tackled by collecting new soil data which are used to update legacy soil surveys. New soil data collection, however, is usually costly. In this paper, we demonstrate how to find homosoils with the objective of obtaining new soil data for a study area. Homosoils are soils that can be geographically distant but share similar soil-forming factors. We cluster the study area into five areas, and identify a homosoil to each area using distance metrics calculated in the character space spanned by the environmental covariates. In a case study in Mali, we found that large areas in India, Australia and America have similar soil-forming factors to the African Sahelian zone. We collected available soil data for these areas from the WoSIS database. Statistical analysis on the relationship between the homosoils corresponding to different areas of Mali and tree soil properties (clay, sand, pH) displayed the unique variability captured by homosoils. The homosoils could explain 8% of the variation found in the soil datasets. There was a strong association between pH and homosoils corresponding to the semi-arid conditions and sedimentary parent material of Mali, whereas homosoils corresponding to other areas of Mali showed moderate association either with clay or sand. The location and spread of the group centroids were statistically significantly different between depth-specific homosoils for the three soil properties. The approach developed in this paper shows the opportunity for identifying areas in the world with similar soils to populate areas with relatively low soil data density. The concept of homosoils is promising and we envision future applications such as transfer of soil models and agronomic experimental results between areas.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
Research Program : West & Central Africa
Uncontrolled Keywords: State factors, Soil forming factors, Environmental similarity, Homoclime, Mahalanobis distance
Subjects: Others > Data & Analytics
Others > Soil Science
Others > Mali
Depositing User: Mr Nagaraju T
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2023 04:08
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 04:08
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: This research and salary support of the ICRISAT authors was in part funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) carried out with support from the CGIAR Trust Fund and through bilateral funding agreements. For details, visit Salary support for the author A. Whitbread from the Accelerating Impact of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) project, which is supported by a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, is gratefully acknowledged.
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