In concert with the 2004 NRCS reorganization, the NRI program initiated a national reorganization that has impacted every key component of the program: policy, facilities, personnel, data collection and statistical survey methods.
The NRI is a scientifically based, longitudinal panel survey of the Nation's soil, water and related resources, designed to assess conditions and trends. The NRI was conducted on a five-year cycle from 1982 to 1997, but is now collected annually. In Missouri, the five-year cycle collected data from 8,700 sites; Missouri's annual data collection occurs for 2,200 sample sites. The 2007 NRI provides nationally consistent data for the 25-year period 1982-2007; constructed specifically to estimate 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-year trends for six points in time:1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007.
The most important change for the individual states is the data collection process. NRCS has established three national Remote Sensing Laboratories (RSLs), replacing the data collection functions of the Inventory Collection and Coordination Sites (ICCSs). Prior to closing, the ICCSs completed the 2003 Annual NRI data collection and 2004 NRI CEAP sample location reviews.
The RSLs are responsible for collecting all the photo-interpretable NRI data elements and coordinating data collection conducted by the states. The RSL data collection includes: scanning analog aerial photography, multi-year image-to-image registration, geospatial segment and point certification, recording segment features, photo interpretation of selected NRI data elements and incorporation of state-collected local data. The states: collect the foundation NRI data elements that cannot be photo-interpreted; conduct on-site data collection for the continuous NRI, special studies and ground truth/quality assurance processes; and assist in the collection of other resource-related conservation planning and program information in support of special studies.
NRI data release procedures have been impacted by the implementation of annual data collection because the scale of NRI estimates is affected by the reduced sample sizes. Estimates for a particular level of geography are only released when they meet NRI statistical standards and are scientifically credible in accordance with NRCS policy and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Quality of Information Guidelines.
The 2007 NRI data are suitable for national, regional and state level analyses. The current 2007 state level results will be supplemented with additional estimates on soil erosion and land use as they become available. Updated sub-state level data, comparable to the 1997 NRI data, are much in demand and efforts are underway to develop the statistical protocols for constructing selected sub-state level estimates from the 2007 NRI database.