What is Pedometrics?

“Pedometrics” , is a term coined by A.B. McBratney, is a neologism which stems from two Greek words pedos (meaning soil) and metron (meaning measurement). It is formed and used analogously to other applied statistical fields such as biometrics, psychometrics, econometrics etc. (see Preface of Geoderma, 1994: 62). In that sense pedometrics is:

“the application of mathematical and statistical methods for the study of the distribution and genesis of soils.”

This is the official definition of Pedometrics confirmed by the Pedometrics commission (see Pedometron 15, #6 -“The definition of pedometrics”, see also the wikipedia’s definition of pedometrics). The domain of Pedometrics changed somewhat since its foundation. At the moment, Pedometrics is best defined as an interdisciplinary science integrating Soil Science, Applied Statistics/Mathematics and Geo-Information Science (see the relevant journals below). However, the domain of Pedometrics is not limited to only these three general sciences, as Alex McBratney stated in his first communication: “It can include numerical approaches to classification – ways of dealing with a supposed deterministic variation. Whereas simulation models per se might not be considered pedometrics (though to dismiss models of pedogenesis would be inappropriate, even foolish) models that incorporate uncertainty by adopting chaos, statistical distributions or fuzziness should be embraced. The definition is certainly incomplete but as the subject grows its core will become well defined. Nevertheless, it will always intergrade to all areas of soil science and quantitative methods and no definition by circumscription or complete enumeration of methods can be unequivocal.”

One way of looking at Pedometrics is to see it as a reflection of newly emerging scientific fields such as wavelets analysis and fuzzy set theory in soil data modeling applications. The development of PM can also be considered as a result of new technological discoveries and improvements, specifically of remote and close-range sensing techniques and computers in general.

It is important to emphasize that Pedometrics is an increasing field of Science when compared to other Soil Science sub-disciplines and subjects.

The most recent topics covered by Pedometrics include:

  • analysis and modelling of spatial and temporal variation of soil properties;
  • error propagation;
  • multiscale data integration;
  • use of wavelets transforms to analyse complex variation;
  • soil-landscape modelling using digital terrain analysis;
  • quantitative soil classification algorithms;
  • quantification of uncertainty and fuzziness of information and evaluation criteria;
  • soil genesis simulation;
  • soil pattern analysis;
  • design and evaluation of sampling schemes;
  • incorporation of exhaustively sampled information (remote sensing) in spatial interpolation;
  • precision agriculture applications.