Irish SIS Final Technical Report 11: Methodology for the Validation of predictive mapping

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Resource or Project Abstract

The Irish Soil Information System (Irish SIS) project was established in 2008, following a comprehensive inventory of Irish soil data compiled by Daly and Fealy (2007), which had highlighted that soil data coverage of Ireland was incomplete in both detail and extent. The Irish SIS project was funded under the Environmental Protection Agency STRIVE Research Programme 2007?2013 and co-funded by Teagasc. It was led by Teagasc with the participation of researchers from Cranfield University (UK) and University College Dublin. The overall objective of the Irish SIS project was to conduct a programme of structured research into the national distribution of soil types and construct a soil map, at 1:250,000 scale, which would identify and describe the soils according to a consistent national legend. This map is now available in digital format and forms the basis of a new soil information system for Ireland (

The Irish SIS Final Technical Report 11 covers the Methodology for the Validation of predictive mapping.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Rachel Creamer

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Att: 1    STRIVE_ISIS-Technical-Report-11v2_Web.pdf  (2.37 Mb)

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Author(s)Creamer, R.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationIrish SIS Final Technical Report 11: Methodology for the Validation of predictive mapping
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL
Unique Identifier8cf75a7d-3b8d-11e4-b233-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2019-09-16

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Creamer, R.   "Irish SIS Final Technical Report 11: Methodology for the Validation of predictive mapping". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland (Last Accessed: 2019-09-16)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL
Resource Keywordspredictive mapping, soils, validation
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2007-S-CD-1-S1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeLand-use, Soils, and Transport
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceThe report and any data or information resources made available on this SAFER-Data resource have been generated by the Irish SIS project. The reliability, quality and completeness of data gained through SAFER-Data is intended to be used in an education or research context. These data are not guaranteed for use in operational or decision-making settings. The EPA and SAFER-Data requests an acknowledgement (in publications, conference papers, etc) from those who use data/information received with SAFER-Data. This acknowledgement should state the original creators of the data/information. An automated citation is provided below. It is not ethical to publish data/information without proper attribution or co-authorship. The data/information are the intellectual property of the collecting investigator(s). The data/information may be freely downloaded and used by all who respect the restrictions and requirements in the previous paragraphs.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 1
Project Start Date Sunday 15th June 2008 (15-06-2008)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 15th June 2008 (15-06-2008)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 12th September 2014 (12-09-2014)
Published on SAFERSaturday 13th September 2014 (13-09-2014)
Date of Last EditThursday 2nd April 2015 at 15:18:14 (02-04-2015)
Datasets or Files Updated On Thursday 2nd April 2015 at 15:18:14 (02-04-2015)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The Irish SIS project adopted a combined methodology of utilising novel predicted mapping techniques in tandem with traditional soil survey applications. This unique combination at a national scale has resulted in the development of a new national soil map for Ireland. Building upon the detailed work carried out by the An Foras Talúntais (AFT) survey (known as Terra Cognita), the Irish SIS project generated soil-landscape models at a generalised scale of 1:250,000 for the counties of Carlow, Clare, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary South, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, West Cork, West Mayo and West Donegal. These soil-landscape models (also referred to as soilscapes) were used as the baseline data for statistical models (random forests, Bayesian belief networks and neural networks) to predict soil map units in counties where there was no map available (referred to as Terra Incognita). To validate the methodology, this work was supported by a 2.5 year field survey, in which 11,000 locations were evaluated for soil type, using an auger bore survey approach. These data were used to check the predicted soil mapping units (associations) for counties: Cavan, Dublin, East Cork, East Donegal, East Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Louth, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary South and Wicklow, where a detailed soil survey map was not available. Where new soil information was generated, due to previously unknown combinations of soil-landscape units, profile pits were selected at representative locations across the country. These 225 pits were described and sampled in detail and were used to generate a new soil classification system for the country. The final product is a unique combination of new and traditional methodologies and soils data from both the AFT and the Irish SIS project. The final, soil association map of Ireland consists of 58 associations (excluding areas of alluvium, peat, urban, rock or marsh) that are made up from 213 soil series. Associated representative profile information is available in the online soil information system.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

In this section some supplementary information about this resource is outlined. Lineage information helps us to understand why this project was carried out, what policy or research requirements did it fulfil, etc. Lineage is important in understanding the rationale behind the carrying out of a project or the collection of a specific dataset etc. Links to web sites, applications, papers, etc are outlined to provide you with additional information or supplementary reading about the project or dataset

Lineage information about this project or dataset
Soil formation is dependent upon geology, climate, vegetation, altitude, landform shape and finally management over time. The soil landscapes we see in Ireland today are a consequence of the changing climatic conditions over the last 100,000 years (with periods of glaciation, the last of which was 12,000 years ago) and the management of land by farmers. Using information about the geology, climate, landform and vegetation, this project has been able to develop the key relationships found between soils and these key factors in Ireland and uses it to predict areas of soils that had not been previously mapped in detail (i.e. by the original soil survey (An Foras Talúntais (AFT)) which took place between 1950s and 1990s and covered c. 44% of Ireland). This work was followed up by a 2.5-year field survey describing the soils found in previously unmapped areas. The final product is a national soils map at the 1:250,000 scale, derived from a unique combination of new and traditional methodologies and soils data from both the AFT and the ISIS project; and an associated soil information system which will be available to all.
Supplementary Information
Validation is the ratification or confirmation of the correctness of an observation or
estimation. The Irish SIS predictive mapping process (WP2) aims to delineate soil mapping units that
consist of National Soil Associations, comprising a dominant soil series and a number (up
to 5) ancillary or associated soil series. The predictive mapping effort in WP2 has
produced a number of spatial outputs that delineate soil associations in 13 counties not
previously surveyed under the former AFT soil survey programme. The outputs are
predicted from inference models developed for previously surveyed areas (Terra
Cognita) and thus represent the likelihood of the type and distribution of soil
associations in unknown areas (Terra Incognita).

To assess the accuracy of the predictive maps a comparison with direct observation is
necessary. During the WP3 field programme, the auger borehole survey identified the
soil series at a given point. It was only possible to spend 3 days surveying each 10km x
10km map sheet area and thus soils were only examined in a small proportion of the soil
mapping units (polygons). The field survey has focussed on nested sampling, to
ascertain the composition of the main soil associations delineated on each field sheet,
rather than auger boreholes more evenly distributed across the landscape.
Comparison between expected results (predictive maps) and observed points (auger
borehole observations) are used to validate the predictive maps. This serves a number of
purposes within the project:

1. Determination of best possible modelling approach for the predictive mapping

2. Determine any changes to the current national legend composition (WP1/WP4)

3. Identifying areas that require additional information and support to ascertain
map unit content or composition (WP4).

The training data in Terra Cognita is comprised of soil information at 1:250 000 scale
spatially delineated as soil mapping units attributed with a National Soil Association. The
predictive mapping has similar output and thus the validation should be achieved on a
National Soil Association basis to assess the accuracy of the predictive map. For
validation, a direct comparison between the soil observation at the auger borehole and
the composition of the national soil association is required. Other concepts such as
similar/dissimilar soils and diagnostic features were considered but it was decided these
were unsuitable approaches for validating the predictive mapping as they diverged from
the National Soil Association concept.
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