Agricultural Soil Survey

The department of Agricultural Soil Survey is responsible for carrying out agricultural soil surveys. The objective of this survey is to map the distribution of different soil types, in order to provide knowledge on the soil resources. This knowledge can be used for knowledge-based decisions for a sustainable utilisation of the soil resources in Norway.

Soil survey

Soil survey in Norway is a systematic survey of the soils on our agricultural areas. This includes classification and mapping of the properties and the distribution of various soil types. The World Reference Base for Soil Resources is used in the Norwegian soil survey. Soil survey in Norway has been conducted for the last 30 years, and is an ongoing activity. 5 200 km2 of the country’s agricultural land has now been mapped. Each year, soil survey is conducted on 100 km².

Analysis and development of products

The results from the soil survey are organized in soil databases. Models are developed and by integrating for instance meteorological data, the models are applied to translate the information in the soil database into thematic maps needed by different users. In one of the thematic maps, the agricultural areas best suited for food production are identified. These maps enable counties and municipalities to enhance their land-use planning and farmland preservation activities. Other maps can be used for agronomy purposes, for instance to adapt agriculture to ongoing climate change.

The department also contributes in research and reports, and provides statistics on the soil resources, both for municipalities and counties. 


The thematic maps resulting from the soil survey are published at the website of NIBIO. All maps can be downloaded free of charge. The department also conveys data about soil resources through courses and meetings with users, and via the institute’s webpages, publications, and by participation in a variety of meetings and fora. The department is responsible for international reporting on the soil resources resulting from the soil survey.
Photo: Åge Nyborg.