Australian Soil Resource Information System

Methods Content

ASRIS Levels
ASRIS Attributes
ASRIS Soil Model
Method Downloads
State and Territory Agency Downloads
How to cite this website


ASRIS Levels

The Australian Soil Resource Information System provides access to the best available soil and land resource information in a consistent format across the country – the level of detail depends on the survey coverage in each region. More specifically, ASRIS provides a hierarchy of mapping units with seven levels of generalization. The upper three levels (L1–L3) provide descriptions of soils and landscapes across the complete continent while the lower levels (L4–L6) provide more detailed information, particularly on soil properties, for areas where field survey have been completed. The lowest level (L7) relates to an individual site in the field (see table below or view animation).

The system can also be used to provide summaries of soil and landscape properties for a range of higher level stratifications of the country (e.g. Interim Biogeographic Regions of Australia (v6) and catchment management boundaries). To view these stratifications use the Australian Frameworks layers on the ASRIS Maps page.

Level Illustration

Level and Tract name

Mapping Window

Main attributes used for mapping

Typical uses for the information

Area of Australia covered*

1 Division

30 km

Broad landform (slope and relief) and geology

Broad geographic context

ILUZ*: 100%
Rangelands: 100%

2 Province

10 km

Landform, water balance, dominant soil order and substrate

National natural resource policy

ILUZ: 100%
Rangelands: 100%

3 Zone

3 km

Landform, regolith materials, age of land surface, water balance, dominant soil suborder

Regional natural resource policy

ILUZ: 100%
Rangelands: 100%

4 District

1 km

Groupings of geomorphically related systems

Catchment planning, location of new industries

ILUZ: 60%
Rangelands: 70%

5 System

300 m

Local climate, relief, modal slope, lithology, drainage network, related soil profile classes

Catchment management, hydrological modelling, land conservation strategies, infra-structure planning

ILUZ: 60%
Rangelands: <5%

6 Facet

30 m

Slope, aspect, land curvature, soil profile class

Farm management, land use planning, on-ground works

ILUZ: 60%
Rangelands: <5%

7 Site

10 m

Soil properties, surface condition, microrelief

Precision agriculture, site development


* Estimates are for June 2007; ILUZ: Intensive Land Use Zone


ASRIS Attributes

A consistent set of land qualities or attributes is described for land-unit tracts at levels 3-6. Descriptions from the lowest level units feed into summaries at higher levels. These are displayed in the online maps as area-weighted means. The land qualities relate to the intrinsic capability of land to support various land uses – the land qualities relate to soil thickness, water storage, permeability, fertility, salinity, and erodibility. The following table shows the main soil attributes in ASRIS and their significance.




Affects most chemical and physical properties. Indicates some processes of soil formation.

Clay content

As for texture.

Coarse fragments

Affects water storage and nutrient supply.

Bulk density

Suitability for root growth. Guide to permeability. Necessary for converting gravimetric estimates to volumetric.


Controls nutrient availability and many chemical reactions. Indicates the degree of weathering.

Depths to A1, B2, impeding layers, thickness of solum and regolith

Used to calculate volumes of water and nutrients (e.g. plant available water capacity, storage capacity for nutrients and contaminants).

Volumetric water content (–10 kPa)

Used to calculate water availability to plants and water movement.

Volumetric water content (–1.5MPa)

Used to calculate water availability to plants and water movement.

Plant available water capacity

Primary control on biological productivity and soil hydrology.

Saturated hydraulic conductivity

Indicates likelihood of surface runoff and erosion. Indicator of the potential for water logging. Measure of drainage.

Electrical conductivity

Presence of potentially harmful salt. Indicates the degree of leaching.

Aggregate stability

Guide to soil physical fertility. Potential for clay dispersal and adverse impacts on water quality.

Sum of exchangeable bases

Guide to nutrient levels. Indicates the degree of weathering.

Cation exchange capacity

Guide to nutrient levels. Indicates the degree of weathering. Guide to clay mineralogy (when used with clay content).

Exchangeable sodium percentage

Indicator of dispersive clays and poor soil physical properties.

Australian Soil Classification

Shorthand for communication across Australia.

World Reference Base

Shorthand for communication internationally.

Substrate type

Control on soil formation, landscape hydrology, groundwater movement, nutrients and solutes.

Substrate permeability

Affects landscape hydrology and groundwater movement.

Histograms of soil properties are displayed for map units by using the hyperlink tool and clicking on the polygon of interest.


ASRIS Soil Model

The soil information for map units at levels 3-6 relates to an idealized soil. Each idealized soil profile is represented by five contiguous soil layers (see figure below). The layers discriminate materials in terms of their function in relation to water and gas movement, nutrient supply, plant growth, and physical behaviour more generally. Numbers are used to denote the layers and attributes (e.g., Texture Layer 1, Organic Carbon Layer 2), and they will often correspond with particular types of soil horizons. In general terms, Layers 1 and 2 refer to the A horizon (often an A1 and A2 horizon respectively), Layers 3 and 4 refer to the subsoil (often a B21 and B22 horizon respectively), and Layer 5 refers to the profile base (often a C horizon at around 1.5-2.0 m).

The soil profiles below provide examples of how to allocate horizon sequences to the ASRIS five-layer model. Example 1 is a common sequence. In example 2, Layers 2 and 4 are recorded as missing because the profile is thin and only has a few horizons. Example 3 is a complex profile and Layers are specified according to their influence on plant growth and water movement.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3


Method Downloads

ASRIS Technical Specifications V1.6 (3 MB)

Polygon Attribute Data Spreadsheet V1.5 - Landsystem based (4 MB)

Polygon Attribute Data Spreadsheet V1.5 - Soil type based (2 MB)

Available Water Content Spreadsheet (55 KB)

ASRIS Example Database - MS Access (3 MB)

ASRIS Powerpoint Presentation (11 MB)

ASRIS Hierarchy Animation (2 MB)

Spline Tool v2.0 (2 MB) - requires .NET Framework 4

Soil Information Transfer and Evaluation System (SITES) V2.0 - Documentation and Database (2 MB)


State and Territory Agency Downloads

Land Evaluation Standards for Land Resource Mapping - WA (3 MB PDF)

Soil-landscapes of Western Australia’s Rangelands and Arid Interior - WA (3 MB PDF)

Soil and Landscape Attributes - QLD (2 MB PDF)


How to cite this website

If you use the information contained in this website in a scientific paper or report, please include cite as follows:

ASRIS. (2011). ASRIS - Australian Soil Resource Information System. Accessed November 7, 2011 (insert actual date).

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Last updated: April 9, 2013