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Soil Survey Programs

Soil Survey Programs

The National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program is a partnership led by NRCS of Federal land management agencies, State agricultural experiment station, and State and local units of government that provide soil survey information necessary for understanding, managing, conserving, and sustaining the Nation's limited soil resources.

Soil surveys provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources that includes maps showing the locations and extent of soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information derived from that data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil in sufficient detail to meet all reasonable needs for farmers, agricultural technicians, community planners, engineers, and scientists in planning and transferring the findings of research and experience to specific land areas.

North Dakota Overview

NRCS has been aggressively pursuing methods to refine the process of developing and maintaining soil survey data.  The Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) certification process was completed on June 9, 2005.  Soil survey data has been archived digitally in every county across the state.  The digital SSURGO dataset is being continuously maintained across the state with improved efficiency by incorporating use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) into analysis.  Soil survey information for North Dakota is available on the Soil Data Mart and Web Soil Survey

NRCS has entered into a cooperative agreement with North Dakota State University and Utah State University to study the feasibility and use of terrain analysis and remote sensing to refine and update North Dakota soil surveys.  The study will attempt to apply the Pedogenic Understanding Raster Classification (PURC) methodology in order to develop a finer scale of soil survey.  The project will attempt to develop models with technologies such as digital elevation models and satellite imagery to predict distribution of soils.  PURC derived products will be tested with advanced applications such as precision agriculture. 

North Dakota soil survey is responding to a need for updated interpretations on 41,000 acres of reclaimed coal mine land.  The project plan being developed will utilize existing data collected by the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s Mining Division, professional soil classifiers and the mines themselves.  This will illuminate duplication of data and allow for additional time for evaluation.  The project is planned for completion in 2 years.

For more information, email Paul Benedict, State Soil Scientist/MLRA Leader