Table of Contents
ISRN Soil Science
Volume 2013, Article ID 634260, 10 pages
Research Article

Maya and WRB Soil Classification in Yucatan, Mexico: Differences and Similarities

1Departamento de Manejo y Conservación de Recursos Naturales Tropicales (PROTROPICO), Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias (CCBA), Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY), Km 15.5 Carretera Mérida - Xmatkuil, Mérida, Yucatán 97315, Mexico
2Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía Ambiental (CIGA), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Antigua Carretera a Pátzcuaro No. 8701, Col. Ex-Hacienda de San José de La Huerta, Morelia, Michoacán 58190, Mexico
3Facultad de Arquitectura (UADY), Calle 50 S/N x 57 y 59 Ex-Convento de La Mejorada, Mérida, Yucatán 97000, Mexico

Received 11 October 2013; Accepted 10 November 2013

Academic Editors: M. B. Adams and C. Martius

Copyright © 2013 Héctor Estrada-Medina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Soils of the municipality of Hocabá, Yucatán, México, were identified according to both Mayan farmers’ knowledge and the World Reference Base for Soil Resources (WRB). To identify Maya soil classes, field descriptions made by farmers and semistructured interviews were utilized. WRB soils were identified by describing soil profiles and analyzing samples in the laboratory. Mayan farmers identified soils based on topographic position and surface properties such as colour and amount of rock fragments and outcrops. Farmers distinguished two main groups of soils: K'ankab or soils of plains and Boxlu’um or soils of mounds. K'ankab is a group of red soils with two variants (K'ankab and Haylu’um), whereas Boxlu’um is a group of dark soils with five variants (Tsek'el, Ch'ich'lu’um, Chaltun, Puslu’um, and Ch'och'ol). Soils on the plains were identified as Leptosoils, Cambisols, and Luvisols. Soils identified in mounds were Leptosols and Calcisols. Many soils identified by farmers could be more than one WRB unit of soil and vice versa; in these cases no direct relationship between both classification systems was possible. Mayan and WRB soil types are complementary; they should be used together to improve regional soil classifications, help transference of agricultural technologies, and make soil management decisions.