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Web Soil Survey - A valuable source of information for farmers

Posted: July 22, 2010

The Web Soil Survey (WSS) is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and provides free access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. The WSS is a Web application that provides customers (producers, agencies, Technical Service Providers, and others) electronic access to relevant soil and related information needed to make wise land use & management decisions. Users can get information on only what they want by highlighting areas on the map and collect information relevant to their land use concerns.

A farmer can look at cropland by typing in an address and zooming into desired fields. Then outline the fields to create the area of interest (AOI). Once the AOI is defined, next select the “soil map” tab to view the soil types in the field broken down by acres. Next the “soil data explore” tab provides information for the field such as the land classifications, which includes capability class and farmland classification. The “soil data explorer” tab also provides vegetative productivity which includes yields of irrigated and non-irrigated crops. Also, if you are thinking of building a pond it suggests areas where the soils are better suited for ponds to avoid seepage.

Lastly the “shopping cart” tab allows the user to print out a custom report for the area selected. This information can also be saved as a pdf document for referencing at a later time. This is extremely useful information for farmers as they evaluate renting or purchasing farmland or for those who are looking to better manage the land that they currently manage. The Web Soil Survey is available at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm