Potential of multi-objective models for risk-based mapping of the resilience characteristics of soils: demonstration at a national level

M. Debeljak, D. Kocev, W. Towers, M. Jones, B. S. Griffiths*, P. D. Hallett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Policy makers rely on risk-based maps to make informed decisions on soil protection. Producing the maps, however, can often be confounded by a lack of data or appropriate methods to extrapolate using pedotransfer functions. In this paper, we applied multi-objective regression tree analysis to map the resistance and resilience characteristics of soils onto stress. The analysis used a machine learning technique of multiple regression tree induction that was applied to a data set on the resistance and resilience characteristics of a range of soils across Scotland. Data included both biological and physical perturbations. The response to biological stress was measured as changes in substrate mineralization over time following a transient (heat) or persistent (copper) stress. The response to physical stress was measured from the resistance and recovery of pore structure following either compaction or waterlogging. We first determined underlying relationships between soil properties and its resistance and resilience capacity. This showed that the explanatory power of such models with multiple dependent variables (multi-objective models) for the simultaneous prediction of interdependent resilience and resistance variables was much better than a piecewise approach using multiple regression analysis. We then used GIS techniques coupled with an existing, extensive soil data set to up-scale the results of the models with multiple dependent variables to a national level (Scotland). The resulting maps indicate areas with low, moderate and high resistance and resilience to a range of biological and physical perturbations applied to soil. More data would be required to validate the maps, but the modelling approach is shown to be extremely valuable for up-scaling soil processes for national-level mapping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-77
Number of pages12
JournalSoil Use & Management
Issue number1
Early online date25 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Slovenia
  • pedotransfer
  • soil resilience
  • scale
  • soil risk-based maps
  • trees
  • multi-objective regression trees
  • prediciton
  • classification
  • digital mapping

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