Soil research of the future: new opportunities for optimal soil management

Wouldn’t it be great if you could map the soil and subsoil with a handy gadget like the Tricorder in Star Trek. Unfortunately this is not yet the case, but thanks to technical developments more and more is already possible. For instance, with the ERT technique layering of the soil and contaminations within the soil can be represented in a three-dimensional visualisation.

Within the project “Soil research of the future” Bioclear earth in cooperation with SIKB and Sweco will assess how we can answer new questions about the soil and the subsoil in a smart and affordable way. We identify which new techniques are the most suitable and determine the best way to put them to use.

Which information is necessary for soil management of the future?

Issues considering soil and subsoil management are changing. Questions have become more complex, because multiple factors must be taken into account. Besides the demands for clean soil and healthy drinking water, there is an increasing demand for renewable energy and the promotion for a sustainable use of the soil.  This has resulted in an increasing attention for the biological and physical aspects of the soil and the underground.

Soil management itself is also changing.  For instance, in the Netherlands an area-oriented approach of groundwater and soil issues is becoming more common instead of a local approach of these issues. This trend is reinforced by the introduction of the new (Dutch) Environmental Law, which will make the soil legally an integral part of the physical environment.

Due to scale enlargement these conventional research techniques are less cost effective and don’t always provide us with the correct information. Even though the development of techniques has evolved, little use has been made of these new techniques so far.  Still the most commonly applied are familiar techniques like soil drilling and sampling.

Linking question to method: a practical tool

Within this project we link new questions about soil and subsoil with well-founded research methods. We do this based on four socially relevant cases (see table).  Based on these cases guidelines will be established for land managers and landowners. This provides them with a tool to design and implement large-scale research, appropriate to the research question.

The guidelines will be drawn up in a practical tool for clients, so that they are applicable in similar situations. The tool can be used to answer the following questions:

  • How do I formulate my problem or research question so that an advisor or technology provider has sufficient information to design an adequate research strategy?
  • How can I asses the research proposals?









Submitted by

Monitoring thickness of covering layers of ditch dampening  for aftercare in the Krimpenerwaard

Omgevingsdienst Midden Holland

Mapping layered water bases for planning of dredging works

Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier en Waterschap Rivierenland

Inventory of soil densification in relation to the consequences for water management planning

Waterschap Zuiderzeeland

Research to determine humane risks of diffuse metal impurities in mounds or wierden

Provincie Groningen


Clients and specialists of different research techniques are closely involved in this project. In so doing, we learn form each other. Clients discover and become familiar with several measurement techniques and technique providers learn how to provide added value in answering soil and subsoil issues of the future.

For more information about new opportunities for optimal soil management, please contact Sytze Keuning.

Sytze Keuning
CEO and founder