Written and submitted by Shelly Ingram
Last week we talked about the importance of knowing what type of soil you have on your farm. A very handy tool that is quick and easy to use in the NRCS Web Soil Survey. It can be accessed at https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm
Although it is fairly self explantory I thought it might be interesting for you to see just what the pages you will be accessing might look like, so I honed in on the Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, Maryland where I have my office. Much of the Park’s acreage is leased to local farmers who grow corn in the large fields pictured later.
To start using the WSS just press the large green button that says Start WSS and just like Alice you’ll go down the rabbithole! Make sure you have your browser set to full screen or some of the tabs tend to get hidden
There are four basic steps to getting a good basic soil map for your property, they are outlined below:
After you have set your AOI and gotten a basic soils map you can continue checking out different tabs (Step 3) and then download a complete (free) soils report (Step 4).
After you have clicked the green button you will be presented with a map of the USA the easiest way to find you property is by clicking the quick navigation button on the left of the page that says address. Enter your address and you will see a map like this one:
Then define your AOI -Area of Interest you can use either of these two buttons to draw a rectangle or a more detailed outline and you’ll see a hatchmarked shape like this one.
Once you have defined your AOI you can click through the top tabs and get more information. In this picture I have clicked on the Soils Map Tab and it shows me all the soils. I can get more detailed information by clicking on the blue hyperlinks for each soil.
If you want to generate a complete soils report follow steps 3 &4 and you will be able to generate a downloadable soils report for your farm or you can just download the soils descriptions in which you are most interested.
Take some time to just play around with it. It takes a little getting used to but is a very handy tool.