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2004 Northeast Regional NCSS Conference - Committee Reports

Tucker County, West Virginia
June 21 - 25, 2004

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Northeast NCSS Research Needs Committee Report
Taxonomy Committee
Technical Soil Services Ad Hoc Committee Report
Northeast Hydric Soils Committee
Subaqueous Soils Committee Report
Standards and Procedures Committee
 

Northeast NCSS Research Needs Committee Report

Committee members and participants at meeting

Joyce Scheyer, NRCS-NSSC Liaison (chair)
Stephanie Connolly, USFS- MNF
Debbie Frigon, NRCS- CT (representing Shawn McVey)
Tony Jenkins, NRCS -WV
Eileen O'Neill, NRCS-WV
John Galbraith, Virginia Tech Univ.
Chris Fabian, NRCS-PA
Cara Sponaugle, USFS/WVU
Robert Dobos, NRCS-NSSC
Chris Smith, NRCS-NJ
Jeff Thomas, NRCS-VA
Henry Lin, Penn State Univ.
Sharon Waltman, NRCS-NSSC
Lenore Vasilas, NRCS-EPA Liaison
Dave Kinsbury, NRCS-WV
Neil Babik, USFS -Region 9 Milwaukee

Suggestions for Research in 2004-2006

  • Compaction of soil due to bulk application of wastes
  • KSAT for Cr and R horizons and influence on interps.
  • Tailored interps. for reclaimed mine soils
  • Radon data collection
  • Quantification of soil structure
  • Wetland ID for NWI validation
  • Develop data model for scalable soil resource data
  • Quantifying science behind digital soil mapping (i.e. SOILM, etc.)

Proposals for Research in 2004-2006

  1. Long term forest productivity - on-going
  2. Benchmark Water Table Study
    • Water table monitoring of red parent material soils
    • Regional prototype for water table studies
  3. Red Parent Material study
    • Found in every state, so every state should select sites
    • What should be measured?
          Water table, soil temp., soil moisture, etc.
    • Equipment needs?
          Wells, piezometers, soil moisture probes, temp. thermocouples, etc.
    • What personnel?
  4. Prototype research project on water tables
    1. Bare bones to top of the line
    2. Look for models for predicting water tables throughout landscape
    3. Develop a position dedicated to water table monitoring support in the northeast (NRCS or cooperator) or create a working committee with funding for travel

Detailed Reports from sub-committees (attached)

  • Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity (Ksat) of Lithic and Paralithic Materials
  • Literature Review to Develop BMPs to Alleviate or Prevent Soil Compaction

Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity (Ksat) of Lithic and Paralithic Materials

Purpose: To determine typical Ksat values of lithic and paralithic materials in the northeast.

Area of Emphasis: Northeast Region (might initially concentrate on MLRA 147, 127 and 140).

Project Description: Some interpretations, including the "soil surface runoff" interpretation provided for P-based nutrient management plans are influenced by Ksat of lithic and paralithic materials especially for shallow and moderately deep soils. However, Ksat values populated in our NASIS database can vary by a factor of 1000 within the same geology formations. While permeability of bedrock is highly variable, it would improve the quality and consistency of our data to get baseline Ksat values (RV and range) for near surface lithic and paralithic materials.

The focus should be on collect data for lithic and paralithic materials that occur within 100 cm of the surface. Sampling should also include the overlying horizons. The most common formations in the northeast should initially be sampled. Initial investigation will concentrate on MLRA 147, 148 and 140. Initial soil series are proposed as Berks, Weikert, Dekalb, Opequon, Klinesville of MLRA 147, Penn of MLRA 148, and Arnot of MLRA 140.

An additional focus will determine methods to measure Ksat in lithic and paralithic materials.

Approach: MO12 and MO13 soil scientist will choose appropriate formations to sample and work with the NSSC staff in Lincoln to do the sampling.

Expected results:

  1. Baseline Ksat values for near surface lithic and paralithic materials in the northeastern US. Initial investigation to concentrate on Berks, Weikert, Dekalb, Opequon, Klinesville of MLRA 147, Penn of MLRA 148, and Arnot of MLRA 140.
  2. Determination of appropriate methods to measure Ksat in lithic and paralithic materials.

Resources needed: Assistance from the Lincoln staff (Phil Schoenberger or Doug Wysocki or others). Possible purchase of Amoozemeters. Pennsylvania has made an initial request for NSSC staff to provide assistance for an initial investigation in FY2004.

Contacts: Ed White, NRCS-PA. Chris Fabian, NRCS-PA. Phil Schoenberger, NSSC.

Submitted by: Northeast NCSS Research Needs Committee, 2004
 

Literature Review to Develop BMPs to Alleviate or Prevent Soil Compaction

Purpose: To determine if adequate information exists to write BMPs to both prevent soil compaction and to restore soil porosity to previously compacted soil.

Area of Emphasis: East Region

Background: A system of medium and large pore connected to the surface is central to the most processes that soil performs. The loss of these pores is similar to soil lost to erosion, except that when porosity is restored, soil function can be recovered. Soil compaction of agricultural and forest soil has long been identified as a potential problem of resulting from heavy equipment including bulk spreaders, skidders as well as the tractor and tillage equipment. More recently, soil compaction has also been identified as a major problem in reestablishing soil function to drastically disturbed soils in areas of cuts and fills for subdivisions, mining reclamation and storm water basins.

Preserving and restoring pore space in soil is central to reducing non-point source pollution by increasing infiltration and reducing runoff. Soil compaction threatens the long term productivity of our lands. In severely compacted soil, wetting and drying and freeze-thaw cycles are ineffective at restoring porosity. It is also impossible for plant roots to penetrate these high density soils, essentially rendering the soil permanently loss unless restoration is undertaken.

Approach: BMPs are needed to suggest management alternatives to prevent soil compaction as well as to restore soil porosity to presently compacted soils. Many investigations and research have already learned much about the factors affecting the compaction process. Before initiating new research it is important to determine if enough information exists to make specific recommendations.

The Research Committee is requesting report an analysis of existing literature and other relevant information that could be used to write BMPs. In addition, the report will list what information gaps prevent completion of a comprehensive set of BMPs that can be utilized to maintain or restore soil porosity.

Resources needed: Approximately 2,000 hours of staff ($20/hr) and 500 hours ($40/hr) of team leader time to review literature and prepare report of findings. Total cost not to exceed $60,000.

Contacts: Dr. John M. Galbraith, VPI

Submitted by: Northeast NCSS Research Needs Committee, 2004

 

Taxonomy Committee

No new proposals were presented. No items were referred from other committees or from the National Committee. We are in the post 9th edition lull.

The new Standards Committee is considering what the scope of its activities will be. Some of these items were formerly sent to the Taxonomy Committee. We sat in with the first session of the Standards Committee in their discussions.

The content and results of those discussions will be in Standards Committee Report.

Steven Fischer
Acting, Acting Co-Chair

 

Technical Soil Services Ad Hoc Committee Report

Introduction

  • The term "Technical Soil Services" refers to non-production soil survey activities.
  • Titles of soil scientists performing these activities include soil resource specialist, resource soil scientist, and area soil scientist. Others in NRCS that may perform these duties include, assistant state soil scientists, state soil scientists, and soil survey project leaders and members. Many of our partners provide these services as well. They include Forest Service soil scientists and Technical Service Providers (TSP). We will use resource soil scientist (RSS) as the working title of a full time technical soil services provider in NRCS.
  • The list of activities in this area is long and varied. On it is anything from on-site investigations for farm bill practices to educational services like the Envirothon or code enforcement officer workshops.
  • Technical Soil Services are the link between soil survey and it’s users
  • The Soil Surveys for Resource Planning and Development Act of 1966 (P.L. 89560). clarified the legal authority for the Soil Survey Program of the United States Department of Agriculture by specifying: that the soil surveys are needed by "...states and other public agencies in connection with community planning and resource development for protecting and improving the quality of the environment, meeting recreational needs, conserving land and water resources, and controlling and reducing pollution from sediment and other pollutants in areas of rapidly changing uses..."
    NRCS was charged to:
    • Make an inventory
    • Keep it current
    • Make useful formats (interpretations, GIS, special reports)
    • Provide technical services

Background:

This Ad Hoc committee was proposed by the East Region Technical Soil Services Network made up of State Soil Scientists and New England NRCS soil scientists involved in technical soil services delivery. We met for the first time at the Northeast Region NCSS Conference in NY in 2002.

If you are interested in being added to this email list, contact lisa.krall@ct.usda.gov

The Charge

Establish effective communication among technical soil service providers and others to maintain consistency, reduce duplication, and improve technical soil services in the east region.

The Members

Lisa Krall, co-chair, CT
Thom Villars, co-chair, VT
Jim Turenne, RI
William Taylor, MA
John Davis, MAIRT
Shawn McVey, CT
Ed Stein, NY
Chris Smith, NJ

If you are interested in being on this committee, contact lisa.krall@ct.usda.gov

Information about the National Technical Soil Services Advisory Group

This group was formed to address technical soil services at the national level. It has had face to face meetings and several teleconferences.

Russ Kelsea: Advisor
Kip Kolesinskas: Chair
Members:
    Clayton Lee, MO
    Edward Ealy, GA
    Lisa Krall, CT
    Gerald Stratton, NM
    Larry Natzke, WI
    Trahan, Larry LA
    Michael Petersen, CO
    Neil Peterson; WA
    Steve Depew, MS
    Rich Gehring, OH

The advisory group will be rotating some slots and adding some non-NRCS members. If you have recommendations, please let Russ know.

The committee developed a prioritized list of issues to consider.

  1. Establish a basic skill set for RSS, and define the accompanying training need Sample PD and development plan complete
  2. We need a place to share presentations, outreach materials, etc. Create a user-friendly website for users of soil survey materials.
  3. Ensure there is a link between technical soil services and the soil survey program Article published in Soil Survey Horizons
  4. We need more people doing TSS, we are below a critical mass
  5. Promote TSS as to what we do with the CTA program
  6. Promote the use/need for soils information and expertise to carry out the Farm Bill
  7. Develop soils training outlines which include the role of TSS, that can be used with new employees, leaders, etc.
  8. Develop guidelines/certification standards(educational and/orexperience) for TSPs completing work related to TSS

First meeting of the Ad Hoc East Region committee at the Northeast Regional Conference, National Cooperative Soil Survey, 2002

Six focus areas surfaced during our discussions in 2002.

  1. Communications
  2. Address problem interpretations
  3. Coordinate the establishment of a minimum skill set and level
  4. Identify research and data collection needed for technical service delivery
  5. Market Technical Soil Services and National Cooperative Soil Survey
  6. Guidelines Needed

Second meeting of the Ad Hoc East Region committee at the Northeast Regional Conference, National Cooperative Soil Survey, 2004

Thanks to all those who joined our discussions in 2004

Alex Topalanchik –WV
Maxine Levin – HQ
John Nicholson – VA
David Kriz - VA
Shawn McVey – CT
Rich Gehring – OH
Kip Kolesinslas – CT
Lillian Woods – WV
Dean Cowherd – MD
Carlos Cole – WV
Rick Jones - WV

Update on focus issues

1. Communications, 2002

Better communications between soil resource specialists and state, regional, and field offices, university, private sector, NCSSC, SSD, as well as among resource soil scientists is needed.

  • Communications is a challenge throughout the agency because there is so much work to do and information being circulated, people are overloaded. Meetings like this help us to share information.
  • We have an East region Email list and there is a soil quality forum
  • The national committee’s next piece is a resource depot for resource soil scientists, web based would like input for that.
  • Sharing of products among resource soil scientists such as generic presentations, fact sheets, photos, templates, etc. that could be localized for use by others.

Communications, 2004 Recommendations

  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan
  • Hold regularly scheduled (every other year, rotate with NCSS regional meetings?) regional meetings for Resource Soil Scientists to include:
    • Training
    • A national portion presented to all regions
  • Approach the new regional soil scientists about assisting with this
  • Action: Submit issue paper supporting regional meetings. Identify most important issues.
  • Web site and email list
    • Create a website dedicated to technical soil services providers (NRCS and others) for sharing tools, templates, photos, etc.
    • Have a Technical Soil Service provider forum similar to the data quality specialist list. (also for NRCS and others?)
  • Action: Work with the National Technical Soil Services Advisory Group on establishing a web site and forum.

2. Address problem interpretations, 2002

Identify

  • problems with national interpretations
  • state data issues
  • new interpretations needed

Prioritize
Seek resolution

Examples:

  • Soil potentials for on-site septic disposal have been developed in many states, including CT and ME.
  • In MO12 we were having a problem with soils rating unsuitable for recreational interpretations such as Camp Areas, Picnic Areas, Playgrounds, and Paths and Trails, . This was because the unified texture of our thin O horizons found in forest soils triggered the soil rating of unsuitable. The MO figured this out and rewrote the interpretation to ignore the unified texture. This solution was possible because the original interpretation contained redundant rating criteria.
Address problem interpretations, 2004 Recommendations
  • Role of the MOs
    • Communicate with states
    • Coordinate fixes
    • Reduce duplication
    • Promote consistency
  • At a regional resource soil scientist meeting, share some examples and show positive results.

3. Coordinate the establishment of a minimum skill set and level, 2002

  • Address training needs
    • Technical and "people" skills
  • Recommend basic qualifications for the soil resource specialist position.

Coordinate the establishment of a minimum skill set and level, 2004 Recommendations

  • National advisory group work
    • Draft position description
    • Draft employee development plan

The national advisory group developed a draft position description and employee development plan (proficiency model). Both are included (RSSproposedPD.doc, IDPSept2003.xls). Feel free to use any part of them that you need. Address comments or questions to anyone in the group.

The employee development plan is being reviewed by several people at the center. We would like any comments or suggestions from you as well. It goes from GS 5 – 12. It establishes a career path and skill set for soils scientists wanting to perform technical soil services.

Position description: Russ is working with Terry Evans, an HR specialist in Fort Worth, to classify a resource soil scientist from GS 5 – 12 and match it up with the proficiency model. It is in draft form at this time and not classified. If you are working on these descriptions in your state, Russ will be happy to provide assistance. He also used this to provide feedback about TSS performance measures that could be reported as progress.

4. Identify research and data collection needed for technical service delivery, 2002

Communicate with research needs committee.

Example: Many requests come in for background levels of metals in our soils. Testing is needed. The research needs committee has this on their project list. Soil technical services group should ad input, possible assistance if appropriate (sample collection, perhaps). Additionally, the USDA-NRCS Soil Geochemistry Data website http://nm6.ftw.nrcs.usda.gov/website/trace_elements/viewer.htm has this information on select soils and uses interactive ArcIMS technology for the viewer. Communication about this resource and how to contribute to the data may be needed.

Joyce keeps in touch with a number of us, ongoing

Identify research and data collection needed for technical service delivery, 2004 Recommendations

At a regional resource soil scientist meeting, include

  • Training / info on sampling techniques / ongoing sampling plan needs
  • State and transition models
  • Benchmark soils

5. Guidelines Needed, 2002

For resources soil scientists performing

  • On-site evaluations
  • High intensity soil surveys
  • Single use soil surveys
  • Corrections to official soil survey
  • Documentation / archiving of additions to the soil survey

Many exist in handbooks and manuals. Explore available guidelines in NCSS handbooks and manuals first to see what we already have.

Explore what individual states already have.

Guidelines Needed, 2004 Recommendations

  • Think twice – when in doubt, ask the State Soil Scientist
  • Concern: Different sources of soil data exist (FOTG, written reports, field office materials)
  • Recommended action:
    • Identify official copy
    • Make sure everyone has the proper version
    • Remind often

6. Market Technical Soil Services and National Cooperative Soil Survey, 2002

  • Identify Technical Soil Services required by the new Farm Bill.
  • Bring technical soil services to the level of the agency’s other services
  • Take credit for success stories

Examples: Describe CTA – non farm bill technical assistance. Russ Kelsea and Kip Kolesinskas both provided input to the National CTA committee on technical soil services charged to conservation technical assistance programs

Members of the national advisory group published an article in Soil Survey Horizons on the importance of keeping soil survey activities and technical soil services linked.

Market Technical Soil Services and National Cooperative Soil Survey, 2004 Recommendations

  • Internal
    • Articles in
      • MO newsletters
      • NRCS this week and State success stories for better visibility by non-soil scientists
    • Recommend a standing committee on technical soils services in each region
  • Public
    • Trade publications: articles on using technical soil services
    • Trade shows: market to users of soil surveys
    • Video series on, "How To Use A Soil Survey", or various interpretations.
  • Action:
    • Set goals on number of articles
    • Explore a possible portfolio – look for articles in certain subject areas
    • Explore getting help from MO newsletter editors and state information specialist in writing good articles
    • Encourage resource soil scientists to share their successes
    • Plan ahead for the 2006 all-digital soil survey. Make sure RSS have the training and equipment to assist in requests (meeting).

New focus area for 2004, Enhance Partnerships

Technical Soil Services Ad Hoc Committee Action plan for 2004 - 2006

Completed:

#3) Coordinate the establishment of a minimum skill set and level, 2002
A draft position description and employee development plan has been written.

2004-2006 actions

  1. Communication (also addresses interpretations and research needs) Submit issue paper supporting regional meetings. Identify most important issues.
  2. Communication
  3. Work with the National Technical Soil Services Advisory Group on establishing a web site and forum.
  4. Marketing
    • Set goals on number of articles
    • Explore a possible portfolio – look for articles in certain subject areas
    • Explore getting help from MO newsletter editors and state information specialist in writing good articles
    • Encourage resource soil scientists to share their successes
    • Plan ahead for the 2006 all-digital soil survey. Make sure RSS have the training and equipment to assist in requests (meeting).

Position Description Template – Resource Soil Scientist


Soil Scientist
GS-470-XX

INTRODUCTION

The position is located at the office name in city name, state. The incumbent serves as resource soil scientist responsible for maintenance, interpretation, and distribution of soil survey information; conducting information and education activities related to soils and soil survey; providing support to users of soil survey information; and assisting with conservation planning, environmental assessment, and natural resource management activities throughout the geopolitical area name.

MAJOR DUTIES

[examples related to Conservation Programs]

Assists with the implementation of the Farmland Protection Policy Act. (xx%)
Develops or reviews land evaluation groupings using the Computer Assisted Land Evaluation System and completes the NRCS portion of Farmland Conversion Impact Ratings (forms AD-1006 and CPA-106). Works with local governments in the development of site assessment scoring categories.

Assists in the implementation of the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. (xx%)
Establishes and maintains contacts with State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations interested in partnerships related to agricultural conservation easements from landowners. Serves on the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program committee to develop or revise an offer ranking system.

Provides technical expertise in the application of Farm Bill programs. (xx%)
Develops or reviews ranking systems, eligibility criteria, program specific data, and practice applications for CRP, GRP, EQIP, EWP, WRP and other programs. Expertise varies with each program, but includes farmland classification (prime, unique, etc.), wetland identification, and Highly Erodible Land (HEL) determinations. Assists Field Office staff with interpretation of soil data and determinations during the program signup and application periods.

Provides technical expertise in program appeals. (xx%)
Serves as a technical soil specialist for highly erodible land, wetland conservation, and conservation compliance. Provides soil expertise (e.g., assignment of soil erodibility factors and identification of hydric soils) at appeals that are elevated to the County Farm Service Agency Committee, State Conservationist (Technical Reviews), and the National Appeals Division.

Delineates wetlands. (xx%)
Delineates wetlands following procedures outlined in the Wetland Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) or as outlined by the state’s MOA workgroup. Recommends changes to hydric soil lists to the State Soil Scientist (SSS). Serves as soils instructor for training such as the COE Regulatory IV course, and National Food Security Act.

[examples related to Information, Education, and Field Office Support]

Maintains Section II of the Field Office Technical Guide. (xx%)
Reviews, edits, maintains, and creates material for the Field Office Technical Guide. Coordinates changes with the State Soil Scientist and State Technical Guide Committee. Collaborates with other discipline specialists to assure accuracy and consistency of soil survey data in Section II with other parts of the Field Office Technical Guide, including natural resource data, quality criteria, and practice standards.

Assists technical specialists with soil interpretations. (xx%)
Serves on multidisciplinary teams to assist technical specialists from other disciplines with appropriate application of soil survey information, including soil properties and interpretations.

Conducts information activities. (xx%)
Provides soils expertise for the accurate delivery of soil information in the form of correspondence, articles, and effective presentations to internal and external users groups. Provides support for technical publications.

Provides training in soils and soil survey. (xx%)
Develops and provides training in soil science and the use of soil survey information to NRCS personnel and non-NRCS users. Training includes principles of soil science and use of soil survey information in hardcopy and digital data formats.

Supports educational activities. (xx%)
Develops and provides training in soil science to teachers and students in support of envirothon, land judging and conservation field days. Makes soil displays and monoliths, creates formal presentations, and maintains a photo library.

Assists field offices with the distribution of soil information. (xx%)
Develops fact sheets, job sheets, technical notes, and other publications to address locally important soil issues. Assists field office with distribution of soil survey information, and integration of soil issues in overall program activities.

Conducts on-site soil investigations. (xx%)
Provides on-site technical assistance to agency personnel and the public on the interpretation and application of soil survey information related to specific soil, water, air, plant, and animal resource concerns. Assists with or conducts special projects such as high intensity soil surveys, natural resource inventories, Soil Quality initiatives, and multi-discipline or multi-agency natural resource studies.

Develops, trains and assists with GIS products. (xx%)
Assists with development and maintenance of NRCS technical tools and resources. Provides training and assistance in development and analysis of GIS products and modeling programs. Trains personnel in the use of technical resource evaluation tools.

Conducts geophysical investigations. (xx%)
Uses geophysical and other technological tools such as Ground Penetrating Radar, Electrical Conductivity and Electromagnetic Induction meters, Calcimeters, permeameters, and infiltrometers and interprets the results.

Evaluates soil characteristics. (xx%)
Evaluates existing soil properties and characteristics for their applicability and use in conservation practices and land management.

Evaluates new technologies. (xx%)
Tests and evaluates new technologies such as the soil quality test kit and soil conditioning index, and makes recommendations regarding applicability in the field.

[examples related to Soil Interpretations]

Maintains and supports soil interpretations. (xx%)
Reviews existing interpretations for inaccuracies due to data errors or deficiencies in the interpretive criteria. Assists agency technical specialists and the public with the understanding and application of existing soil interpretations and identifies soil properties and interpretations needed to improve the delivery and utility of soil survey information. Works with database managers and others to resolve data completeness and data quality issues.

Data maintenance and delivery. (xx%)
Assists with maintenance of soil survey data in NASIS, including quality control and data entry. Monitors and updates soil survey data as necessary to meet current needs and initiates export of soil survey data to the soil data warehouse. Downloads or exports soil survey data for users, including customized exports for specific uses. Develops and maintains non-technical soil descriptions. Maintains information in Customer Service Toolkit, Soil Data Viewer, and MS Access databases. Assists users with these databases and with soil report writing tools.

Develops interpretations. (xx%)
Identifies and documents interpretive needs. Develops interpretive criteria in collaboration with technical specialists in related disciplines. Implements interpretive criteria in NASIS. Assists in the development of soil interpretive groups as needed for tools such as ecological site descriptions and forage suitability groups.

[example related to Soil Survey Products]

Develops general soil maps. (xx%)
Develops general soils maps by aggregating SSURGO soil map units according to broad land use planning needs. Resolves issues related to joining soil maps with adjacent areas.

[examples related to Soil Survey Project Activities]

Collects soil samples for laboratory characterization. (xx%)
Directs, coordinates and conducts soil sampling for laboratory characterization. Locates suitable sites, contacts landowners and coordinates with the National Soil Survey Laboratory. Identifies and selects sites for sampling benchmark soils.

Participates in soil survey field reviews. (xx%)
Represents the state/area/MLRA office name at soil survey progress field reviews, correlation conferences, and other technical assistance visits.

Conducts field investigations in support of soil survey. (xx%)
Participates in soil survey data collection projects such as water table monitoring, temperature studies, and GPR surveys for use in the update or maintenance of soil surveys. Conducts studies on use dependent, near surface soil properties to improve interpretations and evaluate soil quality.

Performs soil mapping and other soil survey field activities. (xx%)
Completes temporary details to ongoing progressive soil surveys to perform field mapping, collect field documentation including soil profile descriptions and map unit transects, and participate in other phases of soil survey field operations.

Reviews policies and technical guidance documents. (xx%)
Provides comment and review of national soil survey standards and procedures. Emphasizes the state and regional perspective in the review and commentary.

Assists with map compilation, digitizing, and map finishing. (xx%)
Assists State Soil Scientist with map compilation. Provides support and resources for digital soil survey projects and products.

Reviews and edits soil survey manuscripts. (xx%)
Conducts additional review of soil survey manuscripts. Assists with technical review and edit. Checks for completeness and consistency of manuscript text and tables.

Participates in functional reviews and program appraisals. (xx%)
Serves as a team member for field office quality assurance reviews and appraisals. Reviews field office use of soils information (source data) in the application of conservation practices and programs. Recommends necessary changes to policies, guidelines, organizational structure, or field office procedures.

[examples related to Education and Outreach]

Markets soil survey products. (xx%)
Develops and implements a marketing plan for soil survey products. Establishes and maintains contacts with soil survey user groups.

Provides training in soils and soil survey. (xx%)
Develops and provides training in soil science and the use of soil survey information to NRCS and non-NRCS audiences. Training includes principles of soil science and the appropriate use of soil survey information in hardcopy and digital soil data formats. Training is provided to a wide range of users including public officials for land management purposes, and university or industrial researchers for research design and data analysis purposes.

Participates in public policy forums. (xx%)
Serves on committees and special task groups at the state, regional or national level to help formulate and recommend policy changes, improve soil interpretations and management, or refine soil data.

Provides training in new technologies. (xx%)
Utilizes GIS and GPS technology and trains others in its appropriate use in the field. GIS training includes the use of SSURGO digital soil surveys and Soil Data Viewer.

[other example activities]

Serves as soil survey liaison. (xx%)
Serves as a liaison with federal, state and local agencies to help coordinate and integrate agency programs and activities related to use and application of soil survey information. Attends and participates in state, regional, and national conferences and professional society meetings.

Coordinates the soil survey technical services program. (xx%)
Assists in the preparation of plan of operations, business plans, budget plans, long range plans, and training plans related to soil survey technical services.

Performs other duties as assigned.

EVALUATION FACTORS

[Evaluation factors are specific to each position and must be written in a manner that describes the exact requirements of the position. Position classification specialists determine the grade level of a position based on these evaluation factors. Contact your Human Resource Specialist for guidance in writing evaluation factors.]

1.     Knowledge Required by the Position

Knowledge of all phases of the soil survey program as gained through training and actual experience in the conduct of soil survey mapping, interpretation, and information delivery in order to provide products and services that meet requestors’ needs.

Knowledge of pedology, geology, hydrology, engineering, climatology, biology, soil physics, soil chemistry, conservation planning, and environmental land use planning in order to participate in interdisciplinary teams and appropriately manipulate soil survey data.

Knowledge and understanding of database systems and geographic information systems in order to maintain soil data, manipulate datasets, create reports, and produce custom data formats.

Knowledge of instructional techniques in order to develop effective training materials and conduct training.

Ability to communicate with others (verbally, TTY, sign language or lip reading) in order to express ideas, convey facts, make effective presentations, and facilitate an open exchange of ideas.

Skill in written communication in order to clearly, concisely, and completely describe ideas, facts, and procedures in training materials, popular articles, technical notes, and scientific papers.

Knowledge and understanding of federal agricultural programs and local land use laws and regulations and associated legal and political processes in order to effectively apply soil survey information.

2.     Supervisory Controls

The position is supervised by the position title, who provides guidance in defining priorities and commits resources to projects based on local business plans and agency strategic plans. Guidance defines objectives. The incumbent defines specific activities to meet objectives, creates work plans, develops methods, and apportions time spent on various phases of work.

Incumbent works in a team setting and exercises initiative in collaborating with colleagues to identify objectives, set goals, and define solutions in a team concept. Many teams function autonomously. The team concept is dynamic and expected to change. The incumbent is expected to perform various roles in the team as the situation demands.

The incumbent is a technical authority, and work products are normally accepted without significant change. When work is reviewed, it is for relevance of the technical objectives and for contributions to the Soil Survey Division and Agency mission.

3.     Guidelines

Primary guidelines are set forth in NRCS policy and NCSS technical standards. Most guidelines exist in the form of policy statements or general instructions. Some guidelines exist as specific instructions. The incumbent is responsible for developing specific guidelines where necessary to accomplish objectives. The position requires judgement on the part of the incumbent. Originality and creativity are needed to develop products and services.

4.     Complexity

The position involves coordination of products, services, and activities. Demands for products and services are constantly changing. New and innovative data manipulations, interpretations, and presentation modes are sometimes needed to satisfy needs. The incumbent must deal with a wide array of topics from agronomy to environmental engineering, and from traditional hardcopy manuscripts to Web based products.

5.     Scope and Effect

The position affects agricultural producers, the general public, NRCS, and cooperating agencies in the assigned area. The work impacts a wide range of soil survey program activities, and agricultural programs.

6.     Personal Contacts

Contacts are with private citizens, NRCS employees, and employees in other USDA and USDI agencies at the local level.

7.     Purpose of Contacts

Contacts are for the purpose of delivery of soil survey data and information, and for the purpose of providing training in the use of soil survey data and interpretive information. In some cases, contacts are necessary to resolve controversial issues.

8.     Physical Demands

The work occurs in both outside and office environments. Outside activities involve strenuous walking over steep terrain and lifting and carrying of moderately heavy soil samples, tools, and specialized scientific equipment. The incumbent must be able to operate a four-wheel drive vehicle and other motorized equipment.

9.     Work Environment

The work includes occasional contact with poisonous plants and snakes when working outdoors, and everyday risks and discomforts typical of offices and meeting rooms.

 

Northeast Hydric Soils Committee

No chair was assigned to committee so participants appointed Lenore Vasilas chair.

Charge

To encourage dialogue between the Mid-Atlantic and New England on similar hydric soils issues.

Problem

Charge could not be addressed because there was no representation from New England at the committee meeting.

Discussions

The mid-Atlantic Hydric Soils Committee has published an updated version of Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the Mid-Atlantic United States. They have also published A Guide to Hydric Soils in the Mid-Atlantic (CD publication) in cooperation with the MO office in Morgantown, WV. All NECSS meeting participants received a copy of the CD publication.

Research Needs

Problem soil monitoring and indicator development
Growing season/ biological zero study

Recommendation

Unless there is participation by members from New England the committee cannot fulfill its charge and therefore be discontinued.

Alternate Recommendation

Change charges and/or merge with the subaqueous soil mapping committee

 

Subaqueous Soils Committee Report

Members present:

Martin Rabenhorst – University of Maryland
Mark Stolt – University of Rhode Island
David Kingsbury – NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Steven Indrick – NRCS, Syracuse, NY
Kip Kolesinskas – NRCS, Tolland, CT
Maxine Levin – NRCS, Washington, DC
Bruce Dubee – NRCS, Richmond, VA
Dean Cowherd - NRCS, Annapolis, MD

Committee Charges from 2002:

  1. Develop and describe a general strategy or protocol for conducting a subaqueous soil survey.
  2. Develop a list of available resources.
  3. Compile a list of preferred terms and definitions to be used in describing subaqueous soil landscapes and special subaqueous soil features.
  4. Consider possible proposed changes to Soil Taxonomy regarding inclusion and accommodation of subaqueous soils.
  5. Compile a list of possible soil interpretations to be developed for subaqueous soils.

Activities related to charges:

  1. Subaqueous Workshop
    • A workshop on Subaqueous Soils was held July 14-128, 2003 in Georgegtown and Rehoboth Beach, DE.
    • Organizers were Marty Rabenhorst, Univ. MD, Mark Stolt, Univ. RI, Phil King, NRCS-DE, Laurie Osher, Univ. Maine
    • There were 20 participants from a wide variety of agencies, universities, etc. Morning sessions were in the field and lectures were held in the afternoon. The session was a great success!
  2. Symposium
    • It was proposed that we host an informational meeting (1 day symposium) to facilitate communication and collaboration with other federal, state and local agencies, to help give us an opportunity to explain the strengths and benefits of using a pedological approach to mapping subaqueous substrates
    • This has not yet scheduled for a regional and or national event. Maxine Levin will pursue this issue. The symposium is to be held in 2005. Plans are to make the session similar to what has already been done in RI with a group of cooperators and partners in the MAPCOAST group.
  3. Document Development
    • A draft document is planned to be written over the coming year which will outline strategies and protocol for conducting subaqueous soil survey. Locations of available resources will also be included.
  4. Compilation of terms and definitions related to subaqueous soils
    • Mark Stolt wrote and revised a glossary of soil geomorphological terms pertinent to subaqueous systems and landscapes. This is available at www.nesoil.com/sas/glossary.htm
    • Efforts have been made to ensure that terms are as consistent as possible with terms in the Glossary of landforms and geologic materials (Part 629, National Soil Survey Handbook).
  5. Soil Taxonomy
    • An initial proposal to adopt the use of subaquic subgroups of various great groups of Aquents has been temporarily tabled as alternate approaches are considered.
    • Mark Stolt will be developing an alternate proposal during his upcoming sabbatical later this year.
  6. Subaqueous Soil Interpretations
    • Phil King prepared an initial list of potential interpretational needs.
    • Additional possible interpretations were compiled during a meeting with potential users in RI.

2004 Subaqueous Soils Committee Recommendations:

  1. That this committee be combined as a subcommittee of the Hydric Soils Standing committee of the NECSSC, and that the committee continue work to complete the outlined charges.
  2. That a one day symposium be held in 2005 for the purposes of improving communication and collaboration with other interested agencies and parties.
  3. That a Subaqueous Soils Working group be formally established to address ongoing issues.
  4. That a host be sought (somewhere within NCSS) for a subaqeous soils website, that would include:
    • Introductory and background materials on Subaqueous Soils
    • Bibliography on Subaqueous Soils
    • Summary of current Subaqueous Soils research projects around the country (with links)

 

Standards and Procedures Committee

"A Study in the Making"

Preface

The Standards and Procedures committee signifies itself in the following way. Standards are considered any quantitative or qualitative model for measurement or comparison. Procedures are deemed any method, process, system, or practice. In simple terms, standards will answer the question "how much" or "how good" and procedures will explain "by what means" or "in what order".

Co-Chairs

Dr. Pam Thomas
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Richmond, VA 23229
pam.thomas@va.usda.gov

Mark Van Lear
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Morgantown, WV 26505
mark.vanlear@wv.usda.gov

Members

Debbie Anderson, SDQS, MO-14, Raleigh, NC
Steve Baker, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Philippi, WV
Jared Beard, Resource Soil Scientist, NRCS, Moorefield, WV
Skip Bell, SDQS, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Debbie Chase, Resource Inventory Specialist, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Wayne Hoar, State Soil Scientist, NRCS, ME
Melissa Marinaro, GIS Specialist, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Debra Murphy, Cartographic Technician, NRCS, Summersville, WV
Tim Prescott, GIS Specialist, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Pam Thomas, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Richmond, VA
Mark Van Lear, SDQS, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Sharon Waltman, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Lincoln, NE
Many more are needed

Additional Participants

Steve Carpenter, MO-13 Team Leader/SSS, NRCS, Morgantown, WV
Teresa Huffman, Cartographic Technician, NRCS, Summersville, WV,
Don Flegel, SDQS, NRCS, Buckeye, WV
Jennifer Sweet, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Fort Worth, TX
Bruce Dubee, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Richmond, VA
Charles Delp, Asst. SSS, NRCS, Summersville, WV
Marc Crouch, SDQS, NRCS, Raleigh, NC (Richmond, VA)
Dr. Willem Van Eck, Private Consultant, Cary, NC
Maxine Levin, Liason, NRCS, Washington, DC
Jim Ware, Soil Scientist, NRCS, Washington, DC
Steve Fisher, SDQS, NRCS, Amherst, MA
Henry Ferguson, SDQS/Database, Indianapolis, IN

Background

Proposed at the 2002 NE conference.
Very little information to go on
No one from that meeting participated
Considered combining with Taxonomy
In the absence of direction–

Goal

Evaluate, modify, and (if necessary) develop guidelines, processes, and ways of "doing business" in the NE for the betterment of the soil survey program both regionally and nationally. Evaluations and recommendations will be passed on to the National Committee in May 2005.

Rationale #1

Since reorganization – somewhere between 18 and 70 different ways of doing things - without a strong central influence
Contrast this to pre 1995 – at least 52 programs and a more influential and stronger NSSC
Are we better off now? Worse?

Rationale #2

New technologies, new processes
New ways of carrying out business
New roles, new responsibilities
Various standards, processes, and guides are simply out of date
We are rapidly changing!

Guiding Principle

"The focus is on solutions"

Roadblocks

We are presently unorganized and unfocused
This is a huge chunk of real estate to bite off
Many different avenues and levels where work is needed
We have different perspectives and priorities
Standards versus processes (procedures)

Monday Meeting (6/21/04)

Slow start
Highly varied ideas ranging from broad and idealistic to narrow and specific
Phase out the acronym "SSURGO" since this refers to a product rather than a process. At the present, there is much more to think about.
"Toolbox" for digital soils information.
Need a location/process to request tool development.
Uniformity in state publications.
Update versus maintenance projects
Review definitions in NSSH and other technical references
Respond to recent flooding/ponding proposal

Tuesday Meeting (6/22/04)

Much more productive
Brainstorming turned up several "areas" where work is needed
Evaluate existing standards
States and MOs – "Can’t we all just get along?"
New projects - update versus maintenance status
Digital soil surveys
NASIS
SDQS versus MLRA PL
Many, many others

Evaluate Existing Standards

Establish relevancy
Achieve consistency
Are they adequate?
Room for improvement?
Quantify!
Do we understand why they are in place?
Are we going to follow them?

States and MOs

Perspective makes all the difference
Lets put our heads together and compare notes
Tell us what we are doing wrong
Accept our criticism (constructive)
Evaluate current responsibilities and make adjustments
Communicate!

New Projects - Update Versus Maintenance Status

Who decides (states)?
Should the MOs be involved?
Individual survey evaluations versus entire state?
What is the criteria used to make this decision?
Are evaluation items applied consistently?
Could separate individuals/teams arrive at the same conclusions?
NSSH guidelines are geared toward the once over.
Loophole in the NSSH regarding quality control/quality assurance.

Digital Soil Survey

New technology, new challenges
General soil map development
Update part 647 of the NSSH
Creating and modifying digital soil layers using GIS
Whose data/layers?
Quality control and assurance – how do we evaluate correlation decisions?
NSSH guidelines, certifications, checklist developed for the once over
How are the DU and DMF centers responding to these changes?

NASIS

Urban soil interpretations
All manuscripts NASIS generated
OSD object in NASIS
OSD pedons, DMUs, linking, sharing, joining, representative pedons
Population standards
Metric –English difficulties
Re-think database structure
Additional data elements

SDQS Versus MLRA PL

Update era
new ideas, breaking traditional methods and processes
Roles and duties may be changing, may be forced to change

MLRA PL
field expertise, quality control of maps and mapping
Responsible for more field checking and verification

SDQS
concentrate more on processing decisions?
Need for faster correlation
updates are supposed to be faster

Electronic field reviews

speed up correlations using quarterly process
Shrinking budgets may necessitate less travel
Teleconferences and net meetings may become the norm
Requires coordination of responsibilities

Other areas where work is needed

NSSC to develop and maintain a technology and information clearinghouse where literature, tools, programs, and methods are housed and made available to others.
Tools and methods developed by universities, field staff, MOs, states, cooperators
Lessen duplication of effort

Committee Membership Recruitment:

At least one representative from each state
At least one from each MO
Cooperators (Universities, other agencies)
Private consultants
Others?