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Managing Soil Information Systems for enhanced natural resource management in Malaysia


Soil Information Systems, Natural Resource Management, Soil Taxonomy, Malaysia


A new approach to Soil Information System (SIS) for natural resources management


WS - Workshop




Asia (South and Southeast)


A proper taxonomic hierarchy for soil classification is lacking in Malaysia. The USDA’s Soil Taxonomy has been adopted to some extent in defining only soil series in Peninsular Malaysia. In East Malaysia, FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World Legend has been used to produce reconnaissance soil maps, whereas, in Sarawak, a combination of Soil Taxonomy and FAO/UNESCO’s system has been used. An attempt to produce a unified soil classification system, Malaysia Soil Taxonomy, was done in 2000, based on Soil Taxonomy with some amendments to definitions and criteria. The new system is based on the properties of the soils with apparently with little emphasis on genesis. Definitions and criteria are based on precise and quantitative definitions. Currently, the system has 11 Orders, 28 Sub-Orders, 87 Great Groups, 279 Sub-Groups, 325 Soil Families and 527 Soil Series. The Soil Series have good agricultural suitability assessments linked to them. Digitization of soil maps is being carried out in several levels. There are visibly two sets of databases nationwide – government based as in the Department of Agriculture and the other by private organizations and consultants. Apart from this, attempts to manage certain soils such as the Histosols, have been hampered by the lack of detail information. The use of remote sensing to enhance the quality of the information systems has been met with limited success despite using a range of sensors and platforms. Currently, the Department of Agriculture does not have any system that is capable of providing information in a quick and easy manner and neither is the data reliable nor accurate ( &Page=1). This is apparently due to the fact that information is scattered throughout the various departments in the country as either hard or soft copies or both.

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