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National soils data now available online

29 August 2011

National soils data now available online

Researchers have today unveiled a new online tool to make it easier and more effective for land managers, business, scientists and the public to better understand the soils that underpin New Zealand’s economy, land use and ecology.

S-map Online ( is a web browser service which provides easy access to information on the soils likely to be found at a location of interest. It’s based on “Google Earth” style navigation to make it easy to search, view and query, and allows a user to:

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

S-map Online is based on a digital soil spatial information system that is being populated with data to provide consistent and comprehensive national soil data layers to support applications at local, and regional to national scales. It improves on previous soil mapping, fills gaps with new mapping, and upgrades the associated soil property information to meet a new national standard.

Landcare Research’s Informatics Team Manager David Medyckyj-Scott says the launch of S-map Online is a “further step towards meeting the New Zealand Governments Declaration on Open and Transparent Government [1] and the requirement that data and information should be open and readily available”.

“A year ago today Landcare Research launched the LRIS portal, which gave those working in regional and central government, in industry, in research and in education access to environment data held by Landcare Research. Aimed at the professional data user, uptake of the service has been high and it is proving to be a great success. However, we felt there was a need for services which make data available in a much more user friendly and informative way and without the need to work with the data directly. So we are delighted to now be able to announce this new soils information service. ”

As well as access to detail soils information, the S-map Online web service has excellent, high quality base maps including maps based on LINZ topographic data. These allow the user to not only locate an area of interest with a high degree of accuracy but also provide a geographic context for the soils data.

Although S-map coverage is not yet complete, there is sufficient coverage to make the service a useful resource for many people. Work continues to extend S-map to the Environment Waikato and Environment Canterbury territorial areas, the soft-rock hill country in the central North Island and parts of Northland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Golden Bay and the West Coast.

“We also have 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 and we’ll keep users informed of these developments,” Dr Medyckyj-Scott says.

Note: During the initial period of operation, access to S-map Online outside of office hours is not guaranteed.


[1] The Declaration on Open and Transparent Government was approved by Cabinet on 8 August 2011.

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