Student information

Msc thesis subject: The impact of spatial environmental and land use data on soil formation in the Netherlands: A temporal analysis (1960 – present)

Spatial soil data are among the top five types of data used by the Dutch government. Digital soil mapping (DSM) requires large sets of spatial data from variables such as climate, land use and management, relief and geology. However, time is often not represented sufficiently in soil mapping studies. In the Netherlands, a majority of soil information is several decades old and was collected as early as 1960. Land use and management has changed during this time frame, but until now, its impact on soil formation has not been modelled on a national scale.

This topic is part of a larger PhD project to develop a high resolution 3D soil modelling and mapping platform for the Netherlands, or “Bodemkundig Informatie Systeem plus” (BIS+). You will contribute to one of the overall goals of BIS+ in harmonizing soil and spatial data to a common date using a time series and DSM approach. Our only requirements are to participate in a small field campaign (approx.. 2 weeks) to collect soil samples and land use information throughout the Netherlands and conduct an investigation of land use (and other) maps over time. Besides this, we offer flexibility and encourage you to bring personal motivation and ideas of what you want to research and achieve within this topic. This presents an opportunity to participate in key research areas of Geo-information Science such as spatio-temporal analysis using (geo)statistical and machine learning models, time series analyses and visualisation strategies to communicate your results.


  • Assemble a range of spatial data (historic maps, satellite data, etc.)
  • Investigate how spatial soil formation factors in the Netherlands have changed over time

  • Create a time series of land use (and management) maps for the Netherlands


  • Outdated and legacy soil data, e.g. Arrouays et al., 2017
  • Monitoring land use change using remote sensing, e.g. Sommer et al., 1998
  • Operational land cover and land use mapping in the Netherlands e.g. Hazeu G.W. (2014)


  • Basic skills of spatial data analysis in GIS and programming in R
  • Enjoy working with land use maps and satellite data
  • Enjoy field work to collect soil samples
  • General interest in soils

Theme(s): Modelling & visualisation, Integrated Land Monitoring