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NSSH Amendment 13

May 2007

This is a summary of changes to the National Soil Survey Handbook (NSSH). The changes reflected in this amendment were introduced to provide policy and guidance in implementing the MLRA Soil Survey Restructuring Plan (previously announced with National Bulletin 430.7.2). Due to the extensive nature of the changes, two rounds of review and comment were conducted between January and April 2007. This summary points out specific areas where technical content has been significantly revised. The official copy of the NSSH is in HTML format and MSWord files at

601 – National Cooperative Soil Survey Organization

601.00 – Added paragraph recognizing primary Federal agency partners. Also added Appendix A which briefly describes each Federal partner agency.

601.01 – List of responsibilities for various offices in the NCSS is expanded and reorganized for better coordination with other sections.

606 – Working Agreements

606.01 – Revised to indicate that only the MLRA Region-wide MOU is required; other forms of MOUs may be developed at the State’s discretion and are optional.

606.01(a)(1)(iii) – Added a brief outline for the contents of a MLRA Region-wide MOU.

606.01(e)(1) – Specifies the requirement for each MLRA Soil Survey Office to have a workload analysis – long-range plan, a project plan of operations, and an annual plan of operations.

606.01(e)(2) - Specifies the requirement for each Soil Survey Project Office (conducting initial or extensive update surveys) to have a long-range plan detailing all activities needed to complete the work within about a 5-year period; and an annual plan of operations.

Exhibits – Deleted exhibit of county-based MOU since it is no longer required. A brief outline of the contents for this type of MOU was added to 606.01(a)(2)(iii).

607 – Initial Soil Survey Preparation

607.00 – The purpose of this section has been narrowed to only address initial soil survey projects.

607.01 – Roles and responsibilities are updated and coordinated with other sections. Also, the need for conducting initial soil survey projects in a coordinated fashion within the context of the larger MLRA region is stressed.

607.02(c) – Added information about preparation of a digital data mapping base. Also, added an example (exhibit 2) of a geodatabase development procedure. This is presented as an example that can be modified to fit local needs.

Previous exhibit listing equipment suppliers was deleted because it was not current and is not needed today. Internet search engines fill this need.

608 – Program Management

608.01 – Responsibilities for each organizational level are updated. The section describes MLRA Soil Survey Offices (601.01(g)); and Soil Survey Project Offices (601.01(h)).

608.01(h) – Specifies that Soil Survey Project Offices (as opposed to MLRA Soil Survey Offices) are established only with the concurrence of the Soil Survey Division Director.

608.01(e) – Specifies that State Soil Scientists (not MO Leaders) supervise Soil Survey Project Leaders unless the Board of Directors assigns supervision to the MLRA Regional Office Leader.

Information on field reviews is moved to part 609.

608.04(b) – Recognizes that the considerations expressed by Native Americans regarding privacy of Tribal lands, or national security concerns, are acceptable reasons to not pursue methods to complete surveys where access is denied.

608.05 – Describes the concept of a “workload analysis – long-range plan” and a “project plan of operations” for MLRA Soil Survey Offices.

608.08 – This section on managing the Soil Survey Schedule is revised to fit the program as it currently exists (which does not yet adequately accommodate management of soil surveys by MLRA).

608.08(g) – We are no longer using “maintenance” as a term for soil survey area status.

Exhibits are revised and updated to better reflect current business processes.

609 – Quality Control, Quality Assurance, and Soil Correlation

Title revised by adding “Soil Correlation”.

609.00 – Quality control and quality assurance definitions are revised and expanded.

609.01 - Responsibilities for each organizational level are updated. Includes clarification that the MLRA Soil Survey Office periodically conducts quality control reviews, and the MLRA Regional Office conducts quality assurance reviews.

609.02 (e) – Clarifies that correlation documents are created for initial soil surveys only. Amendments to existing correlation documents are prepared only up until the time that a survey area is SSURGO certified. From that point forward, correlation decisions are recorded in NASIS, but amendments are not prepared. Also, deleted the requirement for adding farm bill lists (hydric, highly erodible, etc) as attachments to correlation documents.

609.04 – This is a new section describing quality control reviews, including a new exhibit (exhibit 609-10).

Exhibit 609-2, “List of properties and quality attributes for joining” is updated.

All other exhibits are updated to reflect current processes.

610 – Updating Soil Surveys

The term “maintenance” is replaced with “update”, including its use in the title of this section.

610.01 - Responsibilities for each organizational level are updated.

610.01(b)(1)(i) - This indicates that MO’s and States are to coordinate to develop plans for routine updating of existing NASIS datasets.

610.02 – This is a new section on workflow for updating by MLRA.

610.04 – Provides guidance for developing a workload analysis – long-range plan, a project plan of operations, and an annual plan of operations.

610.05 – This is a new section on NASIS legend management.

610.06 – This is a new section on managing soil spatial and tabular databases.