Skip

Soil Survey Update

For selected soils in the project area, samples of each horizon were collected and sent to the Soil Survey Laboratory at the NRCS National Soil Survey Center for characterization of physical and chemical properties. Click image for full screen view

For selected soils in the project area, samples of each horizon were collected and sent to the Soil Survey Laboratory at the NRCS National Soil Survey Center for characterization of physical and chemical properties.
Full screen view

Profile of Honeoye soil, at Cornell University’s New York State Agriculture Experiment Station in Geneva. This soil was described and sampled for characterization as part of ther project. Click image for full screen view
Profile of Honeoye soil, at Cornell University’s New York State Agriculture Experiment Station in Geneva. This soil was described and sampled for characterization as part of the project. Full screen view

NRCS soil scientists recently delivered an update to the digital soil survey of Ontario County, New York. The update included extensive changes to the map unit legend and soil map spatial data, as well as comprehensive development of the corresponding tabular (attribute) data.

Soil scientists in the Belmont Soil Survey Office performed the project work. They made soil observations in transects across the landscape, in order to determine map unit composition and ranges of soil properties. In addition, they described representative soil profiles for each soil type and collected samples for laboratory analysis. The resulting information was used to update the soil property data in the National Soil Information System (NASIS) database. In the digital database, values for soil interpretations are generated directly from the soil property data, so interpretations are more consistent and better reflect conditions on the ground. Correlation of soil map units in the updated legend was based on the collected field observations and lab data.

Updating of the digital soil map was facilitated by development of data layers derived from LiDAR data provided by Ontario County. A NRCS GIS Specialist processed the high-resolution elevation data to generate slope gradient maps, with slope classes corresponding to the classes used in modern soil surveys. Soil scientists then used the new slope map layer in conjunction with the previous soil mapping layer in GIS to develop the new digital soil map.

The result of the project is an improved soil map, attribute data, and soil interpretations that better represent the soils on the landscape.

Official soil survey data for New York is available on the Web Soil Survey.

What’s Next?

Among other projects, Belmont soil survey staff recently completed the update of Allegany County and are currently working on completing the update of the soil survey of Cortland County. At the Paul Smiths Soil Survey Office, soil scientists are finishing work on the initial soil surveys of the remaining unmapped areas in northern New York, along with several other projects. Within the next year, look for delivery of these new soil survey data sets, along with the detailed soil survey of New York City.

The next major project for Soil Survey is a nationwide effort to evaluate and update soil attribute data and develop soil map units on a regional basis. This is the first stage in an initiative that eventually will also incorporate updates of the soil map spatial data. The ultimate objective is a soil survey database with map unit property and interpretation values that flow seamlessly across political boundaries. Already underway, this initiative will be the primary focus of NRCS soil scientists in soil survey offices for several years.

Left: Slope class map derived from LiDAR elevation data. Right: The digital soil map was developed based on the slope class map, previous soil survey mapping, and field observations. Click image for full screen view

Left: Slope class map derived from LiDAR elevation data, displayed over a shaded relief layer

Right: The digital soil map was developed based on the slope class map, previous soil survey mapping, and field observations. Full screen view