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After endorsement of the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB) as a universal soil correlation tool by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), the Reference Base (RB) working group has endeavoured to promote, test and improve the system further .

The aim of this publication is to make the WRB available to young scientists at an affordable price. This text is published in conjunction with a CD-ROM that contains additional sample profiles, analytical data and virtual field excursions. The document and the CD-ROM are produced jointly by the Wageningen Agricultural University (Wageningen, The Netherlands), the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences (ITC, Enschede, The Netherlands), the International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC, Wageningen, The Netherlands), the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) and FAO. This publication succeeds the Lecture notes on the major soils of the world by P.M. Driessen and R. Dudal, eds. (1991) which were based on the Legend of the FAO Soil Map of the World.

For convenience, all WRB Reference Soil Groups are assembled in ten `sets', each characterized by `dominant identifiers', i.e. soil forming factor(s) which most clearly condition soil formation. Each Reference Soil Group is discussed with due attention to diagnostics, regional distribution, association with other Reference Soil Groups, genesis, characteristics (morphological, hydrological, physical and chemical), land use and management.


The editors wish to acknowledge the invaluable help of all individuals who participated in WRB field testing or contributed critical comments and suggestions. The following persons contributed to the text of these Notes (in alphabetical order):

Berding, F.R.

Gleysols, Umbrisols, Arenosols, Regosols, Andosols, Gypsisols,

Blume, H.P.


Brahy, V.


Buurman, P.


Deckers, J. A.

Vertisols, Luvisols, Albeluvisols

Delvaux, B.


Driessen, P.M.

Introduction, Histosols, Arenosols, Leptosols, Regosols, Cambisols, Plinthosols, Ferralsols, Nitisols, Acrisols, Lixisols, Solonchaks, Solonetz, Gypsisols, Calcisols, Chernozems, Kastanozems, Phaeozems, Planosols, final editing of all chapters

Dudal, R.

Critical review of the entire text, with special attention for Luvisols

Langohr, R.


Mensvoort, M. van

Gleysols, Fluvisols

Nachtergaele, F. O.

Qualifyers, maps, critical review of the entire text

Spaargaren, O. C.


Tarnocai, C.


Tebbens, L.

All chapter on Major Landforms

Veldkamp, T.

All chapters on Major Landforms.

Messrs J. P. Lesschen and N. Witte produced the CD-ROM.

These lecture notes will be progressively improved. Suggestions for amendments or additions are most welcome.

Rome, June, 2001

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