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See detailContribution of an Agro-Hydrological Model
Degré, Aurore ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg

Scientific conference (2013, September 13)

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See detailA method for low-flow estimation at ungauged sites: a case study in Wallonia (Belgium)
Grandry, Maud ULg; Gailliez, Sébastien ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg et al

in Hydrology & Earth System Sciences (2013), 2013(17), 1319-1330

Well-integrated water management can notably require estimating low flows at any point of a river. Depending on the management practice, it can be needed for various return periods. This is seldom ... [more ▼]

Well-integrated water management can notably require estimating low flows at any point of a river. Depending on the management practice, it can be needed for various return periods. This is seldom addressed in the literature. This paper shows the development of a full analysis chain including quality analysis of gauging stations, low-flow frequency analysis, and building of a global model to assess low-flow indices on the basis of catchment physical parameters. The most common distributions that fit low-flow data in Wallonia were two-parameter lognormal and gamma. The recession coefficient and percolation were the most explanatory variables, regardless of the return period. The determination coefficients of the models ranged from 0.51 to 0.67 for calibration and from 0.61 to 0.80 for validation. The regression coefficients were found to be linked to the return period. This was used to design a complete equation that gives the low-flow index based on physical parameters and the desired return period (in a 5 to 50 yr range). The interest of regionalisation and the development of regional models are also discussed. Four homogeneous regions are identified, but to date the global model remains more robust due to the limited number of 20-yr-long gauging stations. This should be reconsidered in the future when enough data will be available. [less ▲]

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See detailModelling agricultural strategies to protect groundwater resources in the Hesbaye aquifer (Belgium)
Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degré, Aurore ULg

in Fraters, Dico; Kovar, Karel (Eds.) International Interdisciplinary Conference on Land Use and Water Quality, Reducing Effects of Agriculture, The Hague, the Netherlands, 10-13 June 2013 (2013)

Groundwater quality is spoiled by various substances resulting from human activities. In addition to pesticides, one of the most problematic substances is nitrate. Pumping prevention areas are strategic ... [more ▼]

Groundwater quality is spoiled by various substances resulting from human activities. In addition to pesticides, one of the most problematic substances is nitrate. Pumping prevention areas are strategic zones in terms of struggle against diffuse pollution by nitrate. In order to reduce diffuse pollution of waters by nitrate, different strategies of agricultural practices can be implemented. Their impact can be evaluated either by monitoring water quality or using an agro-hydrological model. The advantage of modelling is to be able to test long term impacts of implemented measures and impacts of complementary measures. Using EPICgrid distributed agro-hydrological model, we reproduced the current agricultural practices. We calculated nitrate leaching but also the nitrate stock in the root zone. These results were validated through a comparison with a lot of nitrogen stock measurements. (These measurements are compulsory in the Walloon context.) The nitrate concentration in pumping wells was also used to assess the efficiency of the model. After this calibration phase, we modelled several scenarios of more water-protective agricultural practices. Indeed, the Hesbaye galleries represent an important source of drinking water in the Walloon region, it is therefore highly probable that further mitigation measures are going to be imposed in the pumping prevention area. An increase in the area cultivated with cereals, a strong limitation of mineral fertilisation as well as a conversion to grasslands were tested and combined. The results of these simulations show how some agricultural practices scenarios can lead to an important decrease in diffuse pollution by nitrate. Prospective simulations taking into account possible future climate evolution (global change scenarios) are carried out to assess nitrate concentrations near the groundwater table for the deadlines of the WFD (2015, 2021 and 2027). Due to the transfer time through the vadose zone (more than 20 years in some subregions), it is showed that an increase in groundwater nitrate concentrations will occur, in some areas, until at least 2030 before new agricultural practices can impact positively the groundwater quality. [less ▲]

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See detailHow adaptation strategies of crops could counteract climate change effects? The case of four catchments in Wallonia, Belgium.
Bauwens, Alexandra ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degré, Aurore ULg

in Geophysical Research Abstracts (2013), 15

A sharp increase in extreme heat and drought stress is projected in Belgium by the end of the 21st century, with the potential to significantly reduce crops’ yields under current agricultural practices ... [more ▼]

A sharp increase in extreme heat and drought stress is projected in Belgium by the end of the 21st century, with the potential to significantly reduce crops’ yields under current agricultural practices. This contribution uses an agro-hydrological model in order to assess the potential effects of climate evolution on crop development, yield, and water balance for the main agricultural productions in the Meuse catchment. Erosion risk is also evaluated. We show that grasslands and maize yield decrease and yield variability increases under climate change scenarios. The leaf area index study permits to put in emphasis the earlier start of the vegetation due to warmer climate. It appears that all the sensitive stages occur earlier in the season and that crops are negatively affected by summer drought stress. The better understanding of crops development under evolving climate allows us to propose some changes in agricultural practices and to assess their effectiveness. We evaluate different strategies of adaptation in agricultural practices in order to reduce the potential negative effects of climate change on grasslands and maize production. Adaptation strategies proposed are advanced sowing and harvesting date, introduction of a cover crop for maize and advance in the cutting dates for grasslands. In the particular case of the Vesdre catchment, shifting the growth period of maize permits to avoid the water-deficit period and allow increased yield. This shift makes it possible to introduce a cover crop that will drastically reduce winter soil erosion. For grassland, the adjustment of the cutting dates favored the first cut and the earlier start of the vegetation. The second cut is less profitable due to summer drought stress. The vulnerability assessments focused on the main rotation encountered in the cultivated areas and in the difference in the cover type of these crops. [less ▲]

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See detailImpacts du changement climatique sur l’hydrologie et la gestion des ressources en eau du bassin de la Meuse : une synthèse
Bauwens, Alexandra ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degré, Aurore ULg

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2013), 17(1), 76-86

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See detailUsing agro-hydrology to adapt to climate evolutions
Degré, Aurore ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Bauwens, Alexandra ULg et al

in Dewals, Benjamin; Fournier, Maité (Eds.) Transboundary Water Management in a Changing Climate (2013)

Natural phenomena such as floods, drought, erosion, nitrate leaching and plant growth are influenced by climate change. The Soil - Water Systems division of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech aims at studying these ... [more ▼]

Natural phenomena such as floods, drought, erosion, nitrate leaching and plant growth are influenced by climate change. The Soil - Water Systems division of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech aims at studying these phenomena; better understanding processes; modelling them in order to predict their change in the future and to assess their potential consequences. Then, we can propose strategies to adapt to these changes. As an agronomy faculty, we believe that adapting agriculture can play a major role in mitigating climate evolution effects at plot and catchment scales. [less ▲]

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See detailEvaluation de la recharge des eaux souterraines en Région wallonne : apport de la modélisation EPICgrid et applications
Sohier, Catherine ULg; Grandry, Maud; Gailliez, Sébastien et al

Poster (2012, October 10)

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See detailLa dendroécologie : un outil pour affiner nos connaissances sur l'autécologie des essences forestières
Latte, Nicolas ULg; Debruxelles, Jérôme ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg et al

in Forêt Wallonne (2012), (116),

La dendrochronologie est une discipline de plus en plus utilisée dans la recherche forestière pour évaluer l'impact du climat sur la croissance des arbres. Elle permet de lire l'histoire des arbres dans ... [more ▼]

La dendrochronologie est une discipline de plus en plus utilisée dans la recherche forestière pour évaluer l'impact du climat sur la croissance des arbres. Elle permet de lire l'histoire des arbres dans les cernes de leur bois où sont enregistrés les événements du passé. Si l'on accepte le principe "d'uniformité", la manière dont les arbres ont réagi face à ces événements nous renseigne sur leur comportement futur face aux mêmes genres d'aléas. L'article présente synthétiquement le concept et les techniques de la dendroécologie, c'est-à-dire la dendrochronologie au service de l'autécologie des essences forestières, et les illustre avec quelques exemples de résultats. [less ▲]

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See detailModelling of agricultural diffuse pollution and mitigation measures effectiveness inWallonia (Belgium)
Sohier, Catherine ULg; Deraedt, Deborah ULg; Degré, Aurore ULg

in Geophysical Research Abstracts (2012), 14(EGU2012), 9672

Implementation of European directives in the environmental field and, specially, in the water management field, generates a request from policy-makers for news tools able to evaluate impact of management ... [more ▼]

Implementation of European directives in the environmental field and, specially, in the water management field, generates a request from policy-makers for news tools able to evaluate impact of management measures aiming at reducing pressures on ecosystems. In Wallonia (Southern Region of Belgium), the Nitrate Directive (EEC/676/91) was transposed into the “Walloon action plan for nitrogen sustainable management in agriculture” (PGDA1) in 2002. In 2007, a second plan was launched to reinforce some topics (PGDA2). Furthermore, the goal of “good quality” of surface waters and groundwater imposed by the Water Framework Directive poses new challenges in water management. In this context, a “soil and vadose” hydrological model is used in order to evaluate diffuse pollutions and efficiency of mitigation measures. This model, called EPICgrid, has been developed at catchment scale with an original modular concept on the basis of the field scale “water-soil-plant” EPIC model (Williams J.R., Jones C.A., Dyke P.T. (1984). A modelling approach to determining the relationship between erosion and soil productivity. Transactions of the ASAE. 27, 129-144). The model estimates, for each HRU identified into a 1km2 grid, water and nutrients flows into the plant-soil-vadose zone system (Sohier C., Degré A., Dautrebande S. (2009). From root zone modelling to regional forecasting of nitrate concentration in recharge flows – The case of the Walloon Region (Belgium). Journal of Hydrology, Volume 369, Issues 3-4, 15 May 2009, Pages 350-359). The model is used to make prospective simulations in order to evaluate the impact of measures currently performed to reduce the effect of diffuse pollution on water surface quality and groundwater quality, at regional scale. Response of the soil-vadose zone to agricultural practices modification is analyzed for the deadlines of the Water Framework Directive: 2015, 2021 and 2027, taking into account two climatic scenarios. Simulations results showed that actual measures are not sufficient in some areas and that new actions are necessary. The EPICgrid model was also used to evaluate effectiveness of further measures that could be implemented in order to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution. The increasing of catch crops in vulnerable zones has shown a limited impact in theWalloon context. The modifications of agricultural practices such as crop rotations or mineral fertilizing amounts have shown a more significant impact on water quality. Furthermore, the farmers’ practices are evaluated each year by a measuring campaign of the soil nitrogen residue after harvest. These data allow us to improve the representativeness of the EPICgrid model in areas in which agricultural practices largely differs from regional statistics. [less ▲]

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See detailEffect of raingage density, position and interpolation on rainfall-discharge modelling
Ly, Sarann ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Charles, Catherine ULg et al

in Geophysical Research Abstracts (2012), 14(EGU2012), 2592

Precipitation traditionally observed using raingages or weather stations, is one of the main parameters that has direct impact on runoff production. This pPrecipitation data requires a preliminary spatial ... [more ▼]

Precipitation traditionally observed using raingages or weather stations, is one of the main parameters that has direct impact on runoff production. This pPrecipitation data requires a preliminary spatial interpolation prior to hydrological modeling. The accuracy of modelling result is determined bydepends on the accuracy of the interpolated spatial rainfall which differs according to different interpolation methods. The accuracy of the interpolated spatial rainfall is usually determined by cross-validation method. The objective of this study is to assess the different interpolation methods of daily rainfall at the watershed scale through hydrological modelling and to explore the best methods that provides a good long term simulation. Four versions of geostatistics: Ordinary Kriging (ORK), Universal Kriging (UNK), Kriging with External Dridft (KED) and Ordinary Cokriging (OCK) and two types of deterministic methods: Thiessen polygon (THI) and Inverse Distance Weighting (IDW) are used to produce 30-year daily rainfall inputs for a distributed physically-based hydrological model (EPIC-GRID). This work is conducted in the Ourthe and Ambleve nested catchments, located in the Ardennes hilly landscape in the Walloon region, Belgium. The total catchment area is 2908 km², lies between 67 and 693 m in elevation. The multivariate geostatistics (KED and OCK) are also used by incorporating elevation as external data to improve the rainfall prediction. This work also aims at analysing the effect of different raingage densities and position used for interpolation, on the stream flow modelled to get insight in terms of the capability and limitation of the geostatistical methods. The number of raingage varies from 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 8 to 4 stations located in and surrounding the catchment area. In the latter case, we try to use different positions: around the catchment and only a part of the catchment. The result shows that the simple method like THI fails to capture the rainfall and to produce good flow simulation when using 4 raingages. The KED and UNK are comparable to other methods for a raingage case that in which stations are located around the catchment area, especially in the high elevation catchment but the worst methods for other raingage position cases where the rainfall stations are located only at a part and mostly outside of the catchment area. However, three methods (IDW, ORK and OCK) can overcome this problem since they are more robust and can provide good performance of simulation in all raingage densities. When using 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 8 raingages in the catchment area (2908 km²), no substantial differences in model performance are observed. [less ▲]

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See detailHow could Mosan agriculture be impacted by climate change and future droughts?
Bauwens, Alexandra ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Deraedt, Deborah ULg et al

in Geophysical Research Abstracts (2012), 14

Despite the great uncertainties regarding the future climatic context, lots of studies have focused on hydrological effects of climate change on the Meuse catchment. It appears that both winter high flows ... [more ▼]

Despite the great uncertainties regarding the future climatic context, lots of studies have focused on hydrological effects of climate change on the Meuse catchment. It appears that both winter high flows and summer low flows could be exacerbated. Climate change and its impacts on hydrology will thus affect various socio-economic sectors. High flows have been widely studied compared to low-flows. This poster will put the emphasis on a methodology developed in order to study impacts of droughts on agriculture. Agriculture is among the most impacted sectors due to climate change. The consequences could be both positive as negative in accordance with the range of predicted changes and the adaptation capacity of agricultural systems. Most of the existing studies related to climate change on agriculture focused on specific territory. Within the AMICE Interreg IVB project, a transnational approach has been developed to assess droughts impacts on agriculture through the Meuse basin. The project’s previous works gave us a common scenario of climate trends and of the evolution of the hydrology in the Meuse basin. The methodology is based on the use of a physically-based model able to simulate the water-soil-plant continuum (derived from EPIC model). In order to be transferable from one country to another, the methodology proposed used data available at the basin scale. The UE soil data base was complemented with local information on agricultural practices and statistics. Three crops have been studied: maize, wheat and barley. The basic cultural calendar is supposed to be the same for the different countries. The methodology developed permits to study the evolution of yields, leaf area index, crops stress due to excess or lack of water through time under different scenarios build up in the frame of the project. It appears that corn is negatively affected by climate change, and thus despite the CO2 fertilization effect. Wheat and barley have similar behavior and are positively affected by climate change and CO2 fertilization. Leaf Area Index study reveals that the different crops start earlier and reach earlier maturity. These first results will be completed with other economic sectors’analysis like drinkable water production, electricity production and navigation. Therefore, the project will progress towards a better understanding of economic effects of future droughts and low-flows. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial modeling of Nitrogen transfert
Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degré, Aurore ULg

Scientific conference (2011, October 14)

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See detailMonitoring networks and modelling systems for assessing effectiveness of the EU Nitrates Directive Action Programmes: Approach by the Walloon Region (Belgium)
Vandenberghe, Christophe ULg; Marcoen, Jean Marie ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg et al

in Fraters, Dico; Kovar, Karel (Eds.) Developments in monitoring the effectiveness of the EU Nitrates Directive Action Programmes. Results of th second International Workshop, 10-11 june 2009 (2011, June)

Wallonia (Southern Region of Belgium) has implemented the Nitrates Directive by designating four vulnerable zones (now 42% of the territory) and introducing a first Action programme at the start of ... [more ▼]

Wallonia (Southern Region of Belgium) has implemented the Nitrates Directive by designating four vulnerable zones (now 42% of the territory) and introducing a first Action programme at the start of November 2002 and a second one in 2007. The Action programmes entail various means of reducing the risks of the pollution of water by nitrate: (a) struggle against nitrate losses in fields using a range of good agricultural practices, including certain restrictions on the use of fertilisers (quantities, spreading periods, soil conditions, etc.), (b) keeping a balance on each farm between the organic nitrogen produced and spreading capacities on agricultural land, (c) adapting storehouses for livestock effluent to a capacity of 6 months and (d) promoting transfers of livestock effluent between farms in excess balance and farms which still have a way of using it on their land. The paper presents the principle of “soil nitrate residue” measurements (APL in French) that permits a yearly monitoring of the farming practices and constitutes a self-evaluation tool for the farmers. The paper also introduces the reference model EPICgrid dedicated to nitrogen transfer modelling in the context of the Walloon region. Following the first comparison exercise, these tools are consistent and complementary approaches to help farmers and authorities in nitrogen management. In the context of the Walloon region, dealing with deep groundwater bodies, fast indicators of potentially leachable nitrogen and nutrient fate modelling are the most practical way of assessing effectiveness of the EU nitrate directive action programmes. [less ▲]

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See detailL’hydrologie, une partenaire de la géomorphopédologie pour une gestion transéchelle des grands enjeux environnementaux
Degre, Aurore ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Colard, François ULg et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2011), S2(15), 699-707

Unsaturated soil and subsoil are often called “critical zone” considering their major interfacing role in our environment. Dealing with solute transfer or water and soil conservation, hydrologic research ... [more ▼]

Unsaturated soil and subsoil are often called “critical zone” considering their major interfacing role in our environment. Dealing with solute transfer or water and soil conservation, hydrologic research relies on pedologic descriptions. It is the case from micro to macro scale analysis. Hydrodynamic parameters are derived from pedologic information on soil. They allow hydrologists to quantify and spatially describe the dynamic exchanges between water, soil, crops and atmosphere. The modelling of water and solute transfer through soil and vadose zone also needs them. The paper presents some research highlights on soil behaviour, hydrological modelling and forecasting under climate change. Erosion is another major topic. Soil is a poorly renewable resource. Soil conservation and soft hydraulic management in watersheds deserve more attention. They can help limiting nutrient and sediment transfer to surface water. Again, pedologic information is the starting point of conceptualization and modelling. Furthermore, the Soil Map of Belgium includes information on geomorphology and landscape descriptions which date from decades. They are of first importance to calibrate and validate detachment, transport and sedimentation models. In the current context of high environmental concern, it is demonstrated how hydrology and pedology have to be partners in order to deal with such major issues. [less ▲]

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See detailModélisation pré-normative de pratiques agricoles et agro-environnementales en vue des plans de gestion des eaux de surface et souterraines en Région wallonne à l’aide du modèle EPICgrid-Qualvados
Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degre, Aurore ULg

Report (2011)

Le présent Rapport synthétise et conclut les travaux réalisés dans le cadre de la Convention Qualvados 2 (Convention SPGE - ULg GxABT) : « Modélisation pré-normative de pratiques agricoles et agro ... [more ▼]

Le présent Rapport synthétise et conclut les travaux réalisés dans le cadre de la Convention Qualvados 2 (Convention SPGE - ULg GxABT) : « Modélisation pré-normative de pratiques agricoles et agro-environnementales en vue des plans de gestion des eaux de surface et souterraines en Région wallonne à l’aide du modèle EPICgrid-Qualvados ». [less ▲]

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See detailDéveloppement d’un modèle hydrologique sol et zone vadose afin d’évaluer l’impact des pollutions diffuses et des mesures d’atténuation sur la qualité des eaux en Région wallonne
Sohier, Catherine ULg

Doctoral thesis (2011)

Implementation of new European directives in the environmental field and, specially, in the water field, generate a request from policy-makers for news tools able to evaluate impact of measures token in ... [more ▼]

Implementation of new European directives in the environmental field and, specially, in the water field, generate a request from policy-makers for news tools able to evaluate impact of measures token in order to reduce pressures on ecosystems. In this context, the objective of this PhD thesis is to develop a “soil and vadose” hydrological model in order to evaluate impact of diffuses pollutions and mitigation measures on water quality in the Walloon region. The “soil and vadose zone” model of the Walloon region (EPICgrid model) has been developed at catchment scale with an original modular concept on the basis of the field scale “water-soil-plant” EPIC model (Williams et al., 1984). After that the model was validated at field scale and at catchment scale, the EPICgrid model was used to simulate the hydrological behaviour of the Walloon region catchments and to produce environmental indicators for surface water and groundwater bodies of the Walloon region. The simulated fluxes are related to unsaturated or temporarily saturated soils. The simulations are focused, on the one hand, on hydrological balance terms (direct runoff, subsurface fluxes, groundwater recharge, soil moisture variability, actual evapotranspiration) and, on the other hand, on associated fluxes of nitrogen, phosphorus, organic matters and sediments, from agricultural origin. The EPICgrid model was then used to evaluate water quality impact of mitigation measures token in order to reduce agricultural diffuse pollution effect on the quality on surface water and groundwater bodies in the Walloon region. [less ▲]

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See detailHydrological response to climate change in the Lesse and the Vesdre catchments: contribution of a physically based model (Wallonia, Belgium)
Bauwens, Alexandra ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Degre, Aurore ULg

in Hydrology & Earth System Sciences (2011), 15

The Meuse is an important rain-fed river in North-Western Europe. Nine million people live in its catchment, split over five countries. Projected changes in precipitation and temperature characteristics ... [more ▼]

The Meuse is an important rain-fed river in North-Western Europe. Nine million people live in its catchment, split over five countries. Projected changes in precipitation and temperature characteristics due to climate change would have a significant impact on the Meuse River and its tributaries. In this study, we focused on the impacts of climate change on the hydrology of two sub-catchments of the Meuse in Belgium, the Lesse and the Vesdre, placing the emphasis on the water-soil-plant continuum in order to highlight the effects of climate change on plant growth, and water uptake on the hydrology of two sub-catchments. These effects were studied using two climate scenarios and a physically based distributed model, which reflects the water-soil-plant continuum. Our results show that the vegetation will evapotranspirate between 10 and 17% less at the end of the century because of water scarcity in summer, even if the root development is better under climate change conditions. In the low scenario, the mean minimal 7 days discharge value could decrease between 19 and 24% for a two year return period, and between 20 and 35% for a fifty year return period. It will lead to rare but severe drought in rivers, with potentially huge consequences on water quality. [less ▲]

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See detailEssai de cartographie des classes d'infiltrabilité des sols de Wallonie
Demarcin, Pierre ULg; Sohier, Catherine ULg; Mokadem, Abdel Ilah et al

in Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement = Biotechnology, Agronomy, Society and Environment [=BASE] (2011), 15(1), 119-128

On the basis of the digital soil map of Wallonia (1/20000), a decision tree is proposed for attributing infiltration class to each soil type. The proposition takes into account soil texture, drainage ... [more ▼]

On the basis of the digital soil map of Wallonia (1/20000), a decision tree is proposed for attributing infiltration class to each soil type. The proposition takes into account soil texture, drainage characteristics, substratum and, when appropriate, percentage of stoniness. The so defined infiltration classes are coherent with SCS methodology for abstraction computation (continuous or event based modelling). There are four groups named A, B, C and D from higher to lower basic infiltration rate. The map produced is a raster with a ground resolution of 10 meters, covering Wallonia (16900 km²), readily usable in hydrological distributed models. The paper deals with the classification and its inherent limitations. [less ▲]

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