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Remote Sensing for Soil Survey Applications (NRCS-NEDC-000244)


Remote sensing is the art and science of deriving useful information from imagery and other data acquired from a distance.  The Remote Sensing for Soil Survey Applications course will provide the theoretical understanding and hands-on experience necessary to enable soil scientists and other soil survey specialists to use remote sensing data and techniques to develop data and information products that can assist with initial mapping, update mapping, and MLRA-wide analysis and correlation.

Lectures introduce theoretical concepts in remote sensing and connect these concepts to soil survey applications.  These concepts have broad applicability and are illustrated with examples from across the US.  A variety of lab exercises in Erdas Imagine 9.3 allow participants to apply the techniques presented in lecture.  Lab exercises incorporate data from a variety of landscapes across the Desert Southwest and Intermountain West, including the Mojave Desert (California), the East Shore Area of the Great Salt Lake (Utah), the Powder River Breaks (Wyoming), and the San Rafael Swell (Utah).  The class will culminate with a final project designed to reinforce topics and skills presented throughout the course.  The final project study area is the San Bernardino Was Quadrangle, Mojave Desert Ecoregion, California.

Topics Covered

  • Identifying and managing a remote sensing project;
  • Properties of remote sensing data;
  • Representing soil forming factors with remotely sensed data;
  • Identifying, selecting, and obtaining remotely sensed data;
  • Pre-processing data for analysis;
  • Spectral properties of key materials;
  • Selecting and interpreting band combinations;
  • Principal Components Analysis, Tasseled Cap, and band ratio transformations;
  • Unsupervised, supervised, fuzzy, and knowledge-based classification;
  • Incorporating other data sources and building layer stacks;
  • Accuracy assessment and zonal frequency distribution; and
  • Uses for remote sensing d


Upon completion of this training, participants will be able to:

  • Identify a remote sensing project and choose a study area;
  • Describe the physiographic characteristics of a study area and relate them to appropriate kinds of remote sensing data;
  • Identify potential data sources and select appropriate data for a project;
  • Identify potential sensor and scene problems and pre-process data for analysis;
  • Identify spectral characteristics of important soil forming factors and choose bands that optimize these characteristics;
  • Choose and apply appropriate transformations to increase the information content of remotely sensed imagery;
  • Choose and apply appropriate classification methods to develop soil information products;
  • Identify other useful data layers and incorporate them into layer stacks;
  • Assess the accuracy of classified data;
  • Use the results of a remote sensing analysis to evaluate soil survey data; and
  • Identify potential soil information products.




4 Hours

Target Audience

Soil Scientists in the National Cooperative Soil Survey Program or other interested professionals.

NEDC Contact

Jasiri Martin

Technical Coordinator



Go to AgLearn to request enrollment in Prescribed Burning - Shrub Grasses (NRCS-NEDC-000244).