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  • Wyss Academy

Capturing and valorizing the soil services

HUB BERN | Project LANAT-1

Our goal:

Develop an innovative and time-saving method to map soil properties, providing a solid foundation for decision-making in various areas.

Photo: Simon Tanner, HAFL The morainal molasse hill near Meikirch represents a typical landscape form of the Swiss Plateau within the canton of Bern. Geology and the form of the landscape are among the most important factors shaping soils and their properties.

In a nutshell:

Consistently collecting high-resolution and reproducible soil information is of crucial importance. It serves the needs of agriculture, forestry, spatial planning, climate adaptation, groundwater protection, as well as initiatives aimed at physical, chemical, and biological soil conservation, and biodiversity preservation. Depending on the specific question or issue at hand, knowledge of soil nutrient and water storage capacity, or the risk of erosion, for instance, can be crucial. Currently, these pieces of information are insufficiently available in the Canton of Bern or in Switzerland.

With this project, the soil characteristics and services are being assessed and this information made available in various applications. Cutting-edge technological advancements in soil data collection and subsequent area mapping will be used to create an innovative and efficient approach to soil mapping. Indicators, issue-specific application maps and instruments, previously unavailable, will be generated for selected large-scale pilot sites. This project is being carried out by the Bern University of Applied Sciences for Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) in close cooperation with the National Competence Centre for Soil (KOBO).

So far, a sampling plan and a four-phase concept for collection of soil information have been developed in a pilot area in the Central Plateau. This progress has been achieved through a combination of exploratory field surveys and statistical calculations. Key actors in this process are local farmers, who have provided additional soil information before and during the fieldwork. As future users of the resulting soil maps, their specific needs and insights are appropriately incorporated.

Moreover, in collaboration with private engineering firms, over a thousand soil borings have been conducted and meticulously described. The valorization of the information gathered, along with the soil science expertise related to the computational generation of soil maps, will remain at the core until the completion of the project.

Photo: Simon Tanner, HAFL Calibration day for the mapping staff. Ensuring consistent quality of soil data collection requires proper knowledge transfer, training of mapping personnel, and cross-verified calibration.

Photo: Simon Tanner, HAFL Soil properties are best determined by means of a soil profile wall. Specific parameters are surveyed in the field and soil samples are collected for chemical analysis in the lab.


In collaboration with:

Office for Agriculture and Nature of the Canton of Bern


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