Sensing Soil is a user-friendly programme which, for each vegetation plot, makes a calculation of factors like groundwater levels, soil acidity and soil nutriet fertility . The results allow you not only to draw reliable conclusions about the landscape, but to monitor the impact of measures on the landscape. The tool can also be used to calibrate hydrological models.

Sensing Soil benefits:

  • Helps in characterising the growth location
  • Can be applied to assess landscape restoration measures
  • Can be used to monitor changes in the landscape
  • Is a good instrument to calibrate hydrological models


The presense of plant species provides information about the water balance, soil nutrient fertility and soil acidity. This is the principle Sensing Soil rests upon.
The input the tool requires is a list of vegetation plots, each containing the names of the plant species present in the plot and an estimate (in percentage) of the coverage of each species. Among other factors, Sensing Soil calculates the average indicator values for humidity, nutrient fertility and acidity of each plot.

Moreover, on the basis of field measurements, these results are translated into hydrological and chemical soil factors – e.g., groundwater level in relation to the surface level, mineralisation of organic material, root-zone oxygen stress and soil acidity level.
In this way, a treasure of abiotic information can be obtained inexpensively.

Sensing Soil is continuously updated on the basis of new research on the relation between growth location and vegetation. It is expected, for example, that the growth location factor “salinity” will also shortly be built into the tool.

Software & downloads

The software consists of a calculation programme with a user-friendly input screen. The use of the tool involves five easy steps:

  1. Start Sensing Soil.
  2. Load the programme with a file containing vegetation plots. The input file has the CSV format with the following fields for each record: plot number, number of the plant species and/or name of the plant species, coverage of the species in percentage terms.
  3. Check box to indicate how you want the species coverage to be taken into account in a plot.
  4. Enter a name for the output file.
  5. Click Run.


There are several forms of support available to ensure that you optimize your use of the Sensing Soil tool, and that you are updated on all the latest developments. Specifically, you can make use of the following options to suit your particular situation:

  • Additional analysis by our researchers
  • Consultancy services
  • Access to Sensing Soil-related literature.


Mentioned in: 17 Publications

The Sensing Soil tool draws on KWR knowledge which has been widely published:

Tool Expert(s)

Flip Witte

Flip Witte

Principal scientist, KWR

+31 (0) 30 60 69 647