Title: Converting the legend of the soil map of Belgium to world reference base for soil resources: case studies of the Flemish region
Authors: Dondeyne, Stefaan
Van Ranst, Eric
Deckers, Seppe
Bouhoun, Antoine
Chapelle, Jean
Vancampenhout, Karen
Baert, Geert
Issue Date: Feb-2012
Publisher: Vlaamse Overheid. Departement Leefmilieu, Natuur en Energie Afdeling Land en Bodembescherming, Ondergrond, Natuurlijke Rijkdommen
Abstract: Within the European Union, there is a general interest to prepare joint soil maps at a
1:250,000 scale in order to harmonise agricultural and environmental policies and for which
the World Reference Base for Soil Resources
has been adopted as the common soil
classification system. As soil surveys in most member states were conducted independently,
the challenge is now to convert the national legends into a common WRB legend. In
Belgium, soils were mapped between 1947 and 1991 and maps were published at a 1:20,000
scale. These maps have proven useful in e.g. land consolidation projects and for assessing soils’
vulnerability to erosion and pollution. The legend of the soil map of Belgium is based on soil
texture, drainage status and profile development. The WRB classification is based on diagnostic
features defined by morphological, physical and chemical properties. A key and a software
programme have been developed to convert the Belgian units into WRB units. However, as many
Belgian soil units could not unequivocally be translated into WRB units, additional guidelines had
to be derived based on soil profile data that were classified according to WRB. To overcome
resulting ambiguities it is proposed to establish a national database of reference soil profiles.
By using WRB Reference Soil Groups with one or two qualifiers expressing morphologic
properties, the salient soil information of the original 1:20,000 scale soil map of Belgium can be
represented; it is proposed to present the information on texture, drainage and substrate as
separate inset maps. In this way, the legend allows for greater flexibility when adjusting large to
small scale maps (e.g. 1:20,000 to 1:250,000). Keeping information on soil texture, drainage and
occurrence of lithologic discontinuities in separate data fields conforms the logic of working with
geographical information systems and allows making compromise between the Belgian and the
WRB classification systems. Inevitably the conversion to WRB leads to some loss of information
as some details get generalised into broader categories in WRB. This generalisation however can
be neatly represented on 1:50,000 scale maps. Being less complex than the original maps, these
maps have the advantage to provide a wider insight into the regional soil geography. These maps
have also proven to provide a good base for deriving maps at a 1:250,000 scale. Whereas,
overall WRB is satisfactory for classifying soils at national level, the experience also shows
that some WRB concepts may benefit from revisions to facilitate its correlation with national
soil survey data.
Description: Bestek nr. BOD/STUD/2009/05
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: ER
Appears in Collections:Division Soil and Water Management
Bioengineering Technology TC, Technology Campus Geel
Technologiecluster Bioengineering Technologie

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