This article is from ECHO Asia Note #30

Editor’s Note: Peter is a freelance consultant based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a M.Sc. in Agriculture from Leipzig, Germany. Peter is a former researcher in “The Uplands Program,” a collaborative research program between Hohenheim University (Germany), Chiang Mai University (Thailand), and others. Contact:

We have been looking for a reference guide to the soils of Southeast Asia for some time, and in the past have had to rely upon the fragmented soil classifi cations provided by most Southeast Asian countries. Those guides tended to include old data and were certainly not interactive. In this article, Peter Elstner explores the digital soil map of the world and the resulting seven major soil classes of Southeast Asia. Soils are the backbone and foundation for all sustainable agriculture and development, and knowing the type of soil in your community is essential for knowing the types of crops, development, and land use that can occur there. Be sure to check out the Reference Soil Groups (starting on page 6). We hope that this guide will inspire you to explore the digital soil map and learn more about the soils in your area.]

This report describes and analyzes the soil distribution and characteristics of the main soil types in Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) that comprise the countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (Map 1).