Better view from free maps of high-res Australia
Two billion pixels have come together to form the most comprehensive three-dimensional view of Australia ever.
A huge CSIRO research project has rendered Australia’s vast and complex land surface in new ways, following the most comprehensive nation-wide digital maps of soils and landscapes yet produced.
The new Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia draws information from various databases, including historical and current data from sampling, laboratory sensing, modelling and remote sensing.
Everything from local government planning to resource exploration, engineering, geology and classroom education stands to gain from the free, high-resolution assays.
The Grid also includes estimates of reliability and is designed to integrate new data in the future – even data generated by technology that has not yet been invented.
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 Grid will be launched today at the National Soil Science Conference in Melbourne; 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).
CSIRO Research Director Mike Grundy said the team had already 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 said.
"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."
Alexandra Gartmann, CEO at Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal and former CEO of Birchip Cropping Group said she was excited by the new technology.
"Knowledge is power, and our agricultural industries have a very narrow margin for error these days, so the more knowledge to reduce poor decisions, the better," Ms Gartmann said.
"Agribusiness will benefit from this technology, both at the farm scale — with data to inform production models and risk management decisions — and industry scale, as it draws together many years of past research and knowledge for future investment decisions.
"The Soil and Landscape Grid is a huge leap forward. With its national datasets and consistent and comparable data, it has huge potential for regional development, informing planning and decision-making."