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Research Report  3.11

State of the Resources: Improving the Land Resource
Data Base - The Regional Municipality of
Waterloo Soil Information Upgrade

Mr. David Cressman, Ecologistics Limited,
490 Dutton Drive, Waterloo, ONT, N2L 6H7
COESA Report No.:  RES/MON-011/96

Objectives & Expected Outputs
Executive Summary
View / Download Report   [2473 KB pdf]    (includes numerous maps)


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Objectives and Expected Outputs
Objectives: To compile and document for the complete Regional Municipality of Waterloo a soil survey map and associated database appropriate for use at a scale of 1:50,000 with linkage to the existing 1:20,000 soil survey data. The methods used to compile this information will be in accord with the procedures developed in the pilot study (Project # 3.4) including the upgrade of slope classes to current CSSC standards and minor modifications of boundaries to correspond with current stream boundaries and topographic and cultural features.
Expected Outputs:
  1. The final report will describe the relationship of the new map and database to the older 1:20000 Waterloo Soil Report # 44, and will include a discussion of appropriate ways of using the database;
  2. The final report will include a plotted map produced at a scale of 1:50,000 showing soil polygons on an OBM base showing major cultural features (roads and urban areas), major watercourses and major land disturbances such as gravel pits and a printed legend showing soil attributes;
  3. The final report will include digital data files of the map and associated database in standard ARC/Info format in a version and medium compatible with the hardware and software at the Ontario Land Resource Unit. Separate layers will be provided for the soil thematic layer, the hydrology layer, and the cultural layer. So far as possible the CanSIS conventions for naming of arc IDs will be used. The digital file record layout, format and contents will conform to the CanSIS standards as described in "CanSIS Manual 1 - CanSIS/NSDB: A general description" with the addition of a file which provides the linkage between the 1:50000 scale polygons and the 1:20000 scale polygons.
Type: Open Bid, Industry
Spending Profile: 94-95: $62.8 K,    Total: $62.8 K
Status: Available Fall 1996


Executive Summary


This is a technical report that describes a process converting a very detailed (1:20,000 scale) soil survey into a generalized (1:50,000 scale) survey and developing for the latter a GIS database.

This report is a detailed technical accounting of the procedures involved in developing GIS soil survey databases for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. This report is not a replacement for the published "Soils of Waterloo County" (Presant and Wicklund, 1971). It should be regarded as a technical supplement to that report and should be referenced when using the digital version of the survey.

The goal of this project was to produce a grouped soil polygon map and digital data set for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. More specifically, the objective was to convert a very detailed 1:20,000 scale soil map (from The Soils of Waterloo County, Report Number 44 of the Ontario Soil Survey (Presant and Wicklund, 1971) on an uncontrolled photo mosaic base to a scale and level of detail that is more commonly used in land use and resource management planning (1:50,000 scale) and, in a Geographic Information System (GIS), to register the new soil map to the Ontario Base Mapping (OBM).

In a prior pilot project in Wilmot Township, soil polygons were grouped manually on the unregistered, published base maps and transferred to the OBM. In this project the intent was to utilize the GIS system as much as possible to group the polygons. Available from a previous project, undertaken by the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, was a complete digital data base for the 1:20,000 scale soil survey, and grouped soil polygon maps on a registered base. In order to assess the accuracy of the Region's grouped polygons, a plot of the polygons was compared with the manually-devised map of grouped soil polygons in Wilmot Township. Test results suggested the need for only minor changes to the digital soil grouping methodology.

In grouping soil polygons the available digital soil polygon data in the GIS were used to automate and accelerate the mapping process. Using the digital soils information from the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, soil polygons were first grouped according to the soil association parameters established in the Wilmot Township pilot project. Initially, adjacent soils of similar association were combined and polygon boundaries between these soils dissolved in the GIS. This reduced the number of soil polygons by approximately one half.

Next, hard copy maps were printed for each of the townships to show the distribution and sizes of grouped soil polygons. The maps were colour coded to show the relative sizes of soil polygons. Polygons smaller than the minimum size for map units were merged with the closest large polygon with similar soil materials. Soils were not grouped within the developed areas in subdivisions and other developed lands in the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge and in towns and hamlets across the Region.

Slope classes for each grouped soil polygon were determined using a combination of slope information in the original soil survey and OBM digital elevation data. The soil survey slope classes were modified to conform with current CanSIS standards. The OBM data were used to perform digital terrain mapping (DTM) and to derive slope classes in areas with slope gradients larger than 10 percent. The soil polygon slope fields were then combined to produce a generalized soil/slope polygon map for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. The final step in the process was to assign soil capability ratings to the grouped soil polygons using modified Canada Land Inventory (CLI) ratings from The Soils of Waterloo County, Report Number 44 of the Ontario Soil Survey (Presant and Wicklund, 1971).



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