Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has recently completed a three-year project updating the Soil Landscapes of Canada (SLC) to meet new demands for information about the environmental performance of agricultural regions in Canada. Version 3.0 of the SLC is now available from AAFC’s web site of the Canadian Soil Information System, or CanSIS.
SLCv3 is the national database and series of digital soil maps, at a scale of 1:1 million, for all of Canada’s agricultural soils. This version has the degree of detail and the complexity of information that older versions of the soil map series do not have. SLCv3 was created largely as a response to the requirements for a national greenhouse gas and soil carbon accounting system and for national agri-environmental indicators.
SLCv3 takes full advantage of new GIS methods and represents major changes. This version uses a new database model based on shared soil attribute (soil name and soil layer) data, making it simpler to understand and more precise and consistent. SLCv3 includes more precise spatial reference data, enhancing its capacity for interpretation. Version 3.0 has soil areas, or polygons, as a separate GIS layer from the base map information, making it easier to update. Each polygon on a map is described by a standard set of soil properties, which relate to taxonomy and texture, and associated landscape features, such as surface form, slope, mode of deposition, and soil development.
Land managers and land users are actively seeking strategies to help reduce environmental impacts attributed to Canada’s agricultural sector. SLCv3 will serve as the basis for many of AAFC’s environmental impact assessments and contribute to the development of decision support systems. SLCv3 will provide the framework for many new regional and national applications and programs. Included among these applications and programs are Environmental Farm Plans, the Greencover Canada Program, National Water Supply Expansion Program, National Farm Stewardship Program, and the National Agroclimate Information Service.