Hydropedology as a powerful tool for environmental policy research

J. Bouma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Rather than produce clear-cut answers to well-defined problems, research on future environmental policy issues requires a different approach whereby researchers are partners in joint learning processes among stakeholders, policy makers, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) and industry. This relates to the strategic "up-to-global" as well as to the operational "down-to-local" level. Researchers can play a key role in facilitating the learning process by contributing knowledge and by helping formulate options for action which will imply definition of tradeoffs between contrasting demands and interests. This holds for scientists in general but also for pedologists and hydrologists when dealing with land use policy issues which always include environmental aspects. By combining hydrological and pedological expertise in hydropedology, better contributions can be made to this process than by operating separately as in the past. The considerable empirical knowledge of the pedologist on soil and landscapes can be sharpened by process knowledge of the hydrologist who, in turn, gains by obtaining more realistic model representations. Examples are provided discussing measurement of (i) Bypass flow; (ii) K-sat; (iii) water table levels; (iv) water accessibility; and (v) hydrophobicity. Furthermore, pedotransfer functions and realistic landscape models are discussed which express pedological expertise. The image of a throbbing landscape with characteristic water fluxes in space and time, affected and to be affected by human management, is seen as vital and highly visible input into interdisciplinary discussions in research teams dealing with land use. Suggestions for future action in hydropedology include the need for more field work, exploring the characteristic effects of soil management on given types of soils and, in general, a more pro-active research approach
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-286
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • saturated hydraulic conductivity
  • land-use history
  • soil survey
  • clay soil
  • pedotransfer functions
  • water
  • netherlands
  • science
  • infiltration
  • management

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