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Working with the Harmonized World Soil Database

swolnyswolny Member, NatCap Staff
edited August 2014 in Pre/Post-Processing
I've just been working with the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD), creating soil layers (AWC, soil depth, erodibility) for the InVEST models, so thought I'd post some detailed notes here on how to do this, along with a sample working table. They're attached as a zip file, and are a bit messy but hopefully will save someone some time.

~ Stacie


  • Thanks for this, Stacie! We've been using similar steps with the HWSD, and it's good to have this documented. In addition, we've used the steps in the attached doc to calculated weighted averages for each MU_GLOBAL ID in a single step in Excel (so you don't have to do each one individually (note that the soil depths in the attached are in cm, so they will need to be multiplied by 10 to convert to mm)
  • Thank you all. These documents are very helpful.
  • PerrinePerrine Moderator, NatCap Staff
    Reposting swolny's files. 
    It contains a useful tutorial on how to work with the HWSD to derive soil_depth, AWC, and erodibility.
  • Hi Perrine,

    I just downloaded the HWSD in order to follow the instructions to derive soil_depth, AWC and erodibility, but after downloading the last version I find that I can't open hwsd.bil, HWSD.mdb in QGIS (shape not valid), according to the instructions, you used Arcgis, and you say "you might have to figure out how to translate a thing or two if using QGIS"

    Con you or somebody help me on how to translate these one or two things?? I have no idea and I feel I am stuck, unable to prepare the needed inputs to run IVEST :( So please if you can give a hand, I'd really appreciate it.

  • PerrinePerrine Moderator, NatCap Staff
    Hi Alex, 

    Sorry that you are having troubles with the pre-processing. 

    About the .bil file: Which version of QGIS are you using? I'm using v2.8.2 and I can open .bil files. Maybe it's a matter of upgrading QGIS to a more recent version (but I'll ask the GIS experts if this doesn't work).
    About the .mdb file: it is a Microsoft Access file, which you can also open in Excel.

    When you manage to open these files, the rest of the instructions should be straightforward.
    Let us know if you need more help.

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