New Digital Maps Expose Australia As You've Never Seen It Before

Total Nitrogen at soil surface (0-5cm average). Image: CSIRO

The CSIRO, Australia’s peak science body, has just released the most comprehensive nation-wide digital maps of Australia’s soils and landscapes ever produced.

The entire country is now represented as a digital grid with two billion pixels down to a depth of two metres below the surface.

The Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, launched at the National Soil Science Conference in Melbourne, is the result of a partnership between CSIRO, the University of Sydney, several federal, state and territory government agencies and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN).

Soil and landscape attributes such as soil, water, nutrients and clay, affect the sustainability of Australia’s natural resources and the profitability of sectors such as agriculture, mining and infrastructure.

The video below is a fly through the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia. It shows the south east Central west region of Australia with a view to Sydney and the coast. The video then progresses through to a closer view of the Central highlands.

Mike Grundy, CSIRO Research Director, says the grid has woven together hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of past soil and landscape science into a new digital tapestry.

“The research community has known we need better ways to make this diverse information available; new science and technology has let us make the most of the rich data we have,” Mr Grundy says.

“From exploring new land use options, to making the most of water, to finding habitats for endangered native species, this technology has applications we are only just beginning to imagine.”

The grid will be beneficial to a range of applications and users including urban and regional planners, land managers, farming groups, scientists and engineers.

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