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					                              EUROPEAN SOIL BUREAU  RESEARCH REPORT NO. 4

    The FISBo BGR Soil Information System: State
                                       of the Art

Summary                                The laboratory and profile             different topics. The structure of
                                       database contains the results of       such an information system has
                                       soil analysis, i.e. basic chemical     been described by Vinken (1992).
The German Federal Institute for       and     physical      data     (soil   This and other papers in the same
Geosciences        and      Natural    properties), as well as inorganic      volume give an overview of
Resources has started to establish     and organic contaminants. The          current work on information
a soil information system (FISBo       method base is intended to             systems in Germany.
BGR). This system is intended to       document and select standardized
contain all information relevant to    methods, e.g. for the derivation of
soil protection. It will then be       the       filtering        capacity,
possible to recall and interpret the                                          Objectives and aims
                                       groundwater recharge or soil
data according to scientific or        productivity from soil maps and        of the BGR Soil
regional criteria. Additionally,
methods and criteria will be
                                       the relevant basic pedological         Information System
developed for the recognition and
assessment of soil contamination.                                             In Germany, sixteen federal states
FISBo BGR consists of three main                                              are responsible for soil survey
components: The areal database,        The FISBo BGR Soil                     and soil protection at regional
containing all small-scale soil        Information System –                   level. The federal government is
maps for nationwide needs will be                                             responsible for all nationwide
used as an extensive data set to
                                       general outline                        aspects of soil and for issues at
create thematic maps.                                                         EU and international levels. Once
                                       The ongoing discussion on soil         fully developed, BGR’s Soil
                                       protection has caused the demand       Information System will be a
                                       for    pedological      data    and    specialized addition to the
                                       information to increase abruptly.      individual states’ information
                                       As a result data availability and      systems,      fulfilling    today’s
                                       access have become priorities at       technical demands. It is intended
G. Adler                               EU and national levels as well as      to contain all data relevant to soil
W. Eckelmann                           for the individual state geological    use and soil protection for
R. Hartwich                            surveys in Germany. To meet this       nationwide requirements. It helps
                                       need, the Federal Institute for        to make extensive data available
V. Hennings                            Geosciences       and        Natural   to handle all kinds of questions
F. Krone                               Resources (BGR) has initiated a        and to process these data for use
                                       soil information system for            throughout Germany.
W. Stolz                               Germany, called "FISBo BGR"
J. Utermann                            (Eckelmann and Adler 1994;             FISBo BGR’s detailed objectives
                                       Eckelmann et al. 1995).                and aims are:

                                       The FISBo BGR System is one of          To elaborate and provide a
Federal Institute for                  a number of linked geo-                  database of soil information in
Geosciences and Natural                information     systems,   e.g.          cooperation with the German
                                       geology, soils, geomorphology,           federal states according to the
Resources,                             hydrology etc.. Together they            needs      of     the    federal
Stilleweg 2,                           form a geo-information network           government,
D-30655 Hannover;                      which enables broad inter-              to analyze this database
GERMANY                                disciplinary   evaluation    of          answering       requests     for

                            EUROPEAN SOIL BUREAU  RESEARCH REPORT NO. 4

  information from the federal        a spatial database that                   show landscape relations or to
  government (e.g. for preparing       maintains a number of already             give an overall view on soil
  presentations of the current         existing soil and related maps            information.
  situation,                           including the           geometric-
 for compiling basic and              topographical data
  thematic maps, for prognosis,       a soil profile and laboratory          The 1:200,000 Soil
  and for drafting guidelines as       database that contains both the
  required by law,                     observations of soil surveys as        Map
 to provide a basis for               well as the results of all soil
  answering questions submitted        chemical        and       physical     In order to co-ordinate the
  by      EU      agencies    or       analyses,                              production of a 1:200,000 soil
  international bodies,               a method base that defines the         map for Germany, BGR and the
 to provide a basis for co-           data processing techniques             sixteen state soil surveys have
  operation with other research        (for determining groundwater           started to set up guidelines, rules
  institutions      (e.g.    for       recharge, water retention and          and a legend for the standardized
  nationwide analyses).                filter functions, soil productivity,   soil map as follows:
                                       etc.) from soil maps and the
                                       relevant       principal       and      Guidelines for soil map unit
                                                                                and soil profile descriptions
Structure of the BGR                   supplementary data.
                                                                                including flow charts showing
Soil Information                                                                all steps to be taken by the
                                     With respect to future co-
System (FISBo BGR)                   operation with EU organizations,
                                                                                state geological surveys of
                                                                                Germany as well as those,
                                     these structure components have
                                                                                taken by BGR,
The above mentioned aims and         to be adjusted to those of the EU
                                                                               data sheets with 42 data fields
objectives of the BGR Soil           level. This indicates above all the
                                                                                for data collection related to
Information System require close     need of compatible data field
                                                                                the soil units of the 1:200,000
co-operation between the federal     registers, data sets and methods.
                                                                                soil maps,
government and the individual
                                                                               rules for amalgamating soil
state geological surveys. This
                                                                                survey maps to other scales,
means, for example, that the         Contents of the FISBo
structures of the individual state                                             a general legend for the
information systems and that of      BGR spatial Database                       standardized 1:200,000 soil
the BGR's must be similar in                                                    map.
order to guarantee the most          The spatial database established
effective information transfer.      at the FISBo BGR has to meet the         To ensure that the soil surveys
Structural patterns suitable for a   special requirements to produce          describe similar soil units for the
nation-wide information system       soil maps in order to fulfil its duty    1:200,000 soil map in a
were proposed by a special           for the federal government. For          comparable way, a system of
working group representing the       the national and international           landscape relations has been
federal states (SAG Informations-    need these maps are                      defined for Germany. This
grundlagen Bodenschutz 1989).                                                 hierarchical system classifies
They have been completed by a         the Digital Cartographical             landscapes based on geology,
number of pieces of advice and         Database        of       Europe        morphology,       climate,     and
agreements, e.g. "Mindestdatensatz     (EURODB) to serve as the               vegetation as well.
Bodenunteruchungen" by the same        basic map,
working         group        (SAG     the 1:200,000 soil map as the          Areas with mostly similar
Informationsrundlagen Bodenschutz      common base map to be                  geology and morphology are
1991).                                 compiled jointly with the              defined, and within those areas
                                       federal state soil surveys,            climate, water regime and relief
The following main structural         the 1:1,000,000 soil map as            show only limited variations. It
components are being built up at       the most important graphical           follows that parent material and
BGR at the moment analogous to         database for the national              soil genesis in such an area only
those information systems of the       requirements,                          vary little, and this in turn permits
individual German states:             different soil maps at scales          dominant soil types to be defined
                                       1:2,000,000 to 1:5,000,000 to          for each area. Such an area is

                              EUROPEAN SOIL BUREAU  RESEARCH REPORT NO. 4

called “Bodenlandschaft” or “soil      Ultimately, after reunification, the    Contents of the FISBo
landscape”.                            first nation-wide soil map at a
                                       scale of 1:1,000,000 was worked         BGR Soil Profile and
On a higher hierarchical level,        out on the basis of these two soil      Laboratory Database
several soil landscapes are united     maps by Hartwich et al., (1995).
to form a “Bodengroßlandschaft”        Therefore, it became necessary to       The soil profile and laboratory
or “Soilscape” (after Dudal,           use a common soil classification        database stores all soil attribute
1993), and several of these form a     for both parts of Germany and to        data extracted from point
“Bodenregion” or “Soil Region”,        define standardized descriptions        observation of fully described and
of which there are twelve in           for all soil units. As a result, a      analysed reference profiles in sets
Germany.                               relatively homogeneous map has          of digital files for later retrieval.
                                       been produced which represents          Links between the files, that is
When drafting the 1:200,000 soil       balanced assessment of soil             tables, are maintained through
map, soil scientists must pay          patterns in Germany.                    primary keys. Depending on
attention to ensure that similar                                               regional or national requirements,
soil landscapes have similar soil      The 1:1,000,000 soil map shows          the soil database may be set up
inventories or the soil landscape      72 soil map units described on the      according          to        various
boundaries should be changed.          basis of the German and the FAO         nomenclatures. In addition to the
Using this procedure, it will be       soil taxonomies. Each unit has          German soil taxonomy, the FAO
possible to work out 1:200,000         been assigned a characteristic soil     soil classification system has been
soil maps in co-operation with the     profile (“Leitprofil”) to make          realised so far. The latter has
state geological surveys of            detailed map interpretations on         been done in order to specifically
Germany. This procedure would          various themes possible. The map        cater for international co-
also be suitable for compiling         also shows the twelve soil regions      operation. Similarly, a soil
1:250,000 EU soil maps, as has         boundaries mentioned above (see         database is presently being
already been proposed by Dudal         1:200,000 Soil Map), in order to        developed according to the U.S.
(1993).                                demonstrate     the    connection       Soil Taxonomy (widely used in
                                       between these hierarchical soil         Asia and the Americas).
                                       map levels and the 1:1,000,000
The 1:1,000,000 Soil                   soil map units.                         In a further step towards
Map                                                                            harmonisation of global soil
                                       The German 1:1,000,000 soil             information (Van Engelen and
                                       map has been established                Wen 1995), BGR recently also
Up to reunification in 1990, there     digitally. It is an important part of   adopted the terminology and
was no national German soil            the spatial database integrated in      components of the Multilingual
survey in the FRG to co-operate        the FISBo BGR Soil Information          Soil Database (FAO, ISRIC and
with the state soil surveys in order   System being set up at the Federal      CSIC, 1995) for their FAO soil
to summarize soil mapping              Institute for Geosciences and           database version. Unlike the
activities on a national level to      Natural Resources. In addition to       FAO-ISRIC-CSIS Soil Database
work out national soil maps. The       the characteristic soil profiles        (SDBm), the “FISBo BGR” soil
only soil map which was                (“Leitprofile”) thematic maps           database allows, however, to be
compiled in consultation with the      dealing        with     nation-wide     easily tailored according the
state soil surveys is the              problems of soil protection can be      customer needs and wishes.
1:1,000,000 Soil Map of the            derived. The 1:1,000,000 scale          Based on the standard software
Federal Republic of Germany,           makes the soil map suitable             (i.e. MS Access), soil and other
worked out by Roeschmann               especially        for     evaluating    components (e.g. vegetation) can
(1986).                                problems at both national and the       readily be added to or removed
                                       EU level (Jamagne et al., 1995).        from the database by individual
For the area of the GDR Haase                                                  users or customers.
and Schmidt (1979/85) produced
the 1:500,000 soil map, which                                                  One essential purpose of the
was well suitable to be used for                                               harmonised, site-specific soil data
the preparation of a 1:1,000,000                                               is to estimate representative soil
soil map.                                                                      profiles for small scale soil maps
                                                                               in order to make areal

                              EUROPEAN SOIL BUREAU  RESEARCH REPORT NO. 4

interpretations on various themes      Eckelmann and Müller (1989).          restricted to certain areas or to
(Hennings, 1994). Additionally,        An up to date documentation of a      maps of a certain scale.
this soil profile and laboratory       large number of methods has been      Therefore, all of the methods
database can be used to create         published (Hennings, 1994). This      must be checked and developed
pedotransfer functions, which          method collection was prepared        further according to the results of
relate different soil properties to    by a joint working group of the       further    research    (Hennings,
one another or to soil texture         geological surveys of the German      1994).
(Bouma and Van Lanen, 1987).           federal states and the Federal
The pedotransfer functions are         Institute for Geosciences and         Substantial importance will be
essential for creating standardized    Natural Resources (BGR) set up        given to the optimization of
data sets from inhomogeneous           to study various methods for          algorithms for the pedotransfer
data. At least, these data can be      processing basic pedological data,    functions. Several pedotransfer
used to analyze the spatial            to assess these methods, and to       functions for estimating soil
structure     of    specific    soil   compile a documentation.              hydraulic      properties    were
properties using geostatistics or to                                         published in the 1980s. To
determine the background values        The methods are restricted to         prevent repetition and to identify
of soils for selected inorganic or     calculating       specific soil       the approaches best suited for a
organic pollutants (Utermann, et       properties,     parameters  or        target-oriented    selection    of
al., 1996).                            functions and determining the         methods for the method base of a
                                       vulnerability of the soil to          soil information system, existing
Contents of the FISBo                  specific hazards:                     algorithms should be tested on the
                                                                             basis of an existing soil profile
BGR Method Base                         potential susceptibility to         database. The main objectives of
                                         compaction,                         such an investigation are
The processing of pedological           retention capacity for heavy
data e.g. to make interpretations        metals,                              to quantify the validity of
of soil maps on various themes or       vulnerability to erosion by           pedotransfer     functions     for
to analyse specific topics requires      water,                                estimating hydraulic properties in
not only the availability of the        groundwater recharge,                 general,
data necessary within an efficient      nitrate retention capacity,          to compare existing approaches
information system, but also well       potential agricultural yield,         on a common database, and
defined methods to be applied out       vulnerability to erosion by          to obtain a ranking according to
of a digital method base. This           wind,                                 the accuracy of the predicted
method base contains methods to         vulnerability of forest soils to      values.
derive land qualities from               acidification.
pedological base data (e.g. maps).                                           An important approach is being
The methods themselves consist         All of the methods in the method      prepared within the EU scientific
of pedotransfer functions (in          base     represent    deterministic   co-operation network project
modular         form).        These    models based on simple empirical      “Using existing soil data to derive
pedotransfer functions, once they      relationships.    These      models   hydraulic     parameters        for
are established as reliable and        sometimes considerably simplify       simulation       models          in
accurate, permit key parameters        the physical and chemical             environmental studies and in land
(relationships) to be calculated,      processes concerned and provide       use planning”, co-ordinated by
thus, greatly simplifying the data     only an approximate estimate of       the Winand Staring Centre for
as     required     in     modelling   the parameter of interest. So that    Integrated Land, Soil and Water
(Wagenet       et     al.,   1991).    the different methods, available in   Research, Wageningen (NL).
Moreover, the methods collected        the method base for the same
in such a method base must be          desired parameters, can be            At present, it is being examined
programmed according to a single       compared, information is given        whether numerical simulation
scheme so that they can be used        for each method about the kind of     models can be included in a
by both BGR and the German             input data needed, the appropriate    method base like that one to be
federal state soil surveys.            scale, and whether the result is      built up in the BGR Soil
                                       qualitative or quantitative.          Information System.
The principles behind these            This documentation describes          In addition to the above-
methods are described by               methods whose applicability is        mentioned                 method

                              EUROPEAN SOIL BUREAU  RESEARCH REPORT NO. 4

documentation,      some       more      Recently, a first printout of            and more or less complex
methods,       guidelines        and     “Guidelines for Taking Soil              methods for evaluating soil data.
instructions    have      to      be     Samples” (Eckelmann et al.,              When the individual state
standardized in the future, e.g.         1996) has been published jointly         geological surveys as well as
                                         by the individual state soil             BGR use the same standardized
 for collecting data                    surveys of Germany and BGR.              methods, comparable results are
   generalization procedures for        Some other of these topics are           guaranteed. At least it will be a
      maps at different scales           being dealt with jointly by the          basis for co-operation with other
      (e.g. amalgamating of soil         same group.                              institutes at the EU and the global
      information)                                                                levels.
 for analysis
   geostatistical classification        Use of the Soil                          For another application, the
      of                 individual                                               structures of the FISBo BGR will
                                         Information System                       be developed further for the
   adjustment                   of                                               special needs of developing
      classification diagrams,           The various soil information             countries. It will then be possible
   supplement         for     DIN       systems will be employed first to        for data from technical co-
      norms, ISO standards,              advise    the    German     state        operation projects to be processed
      complete        standardized       government and the individual            in the project area as well as in
      research programs.                 federal governments respectively.        BGR and to be used in a global
                                         Moreover, they will be employed          soil information database.
                                         to develop pedotransfer functions

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