Skip

Southern Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Conference held in Texas

Southern Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Conference held in Texas

Story by Dennis Brezina, Resource Soil Scientist

The 2010 Southern Regional Cooperative Soil Survey Conference was held recently in Bryan, Texas. Texas A&M University and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas hosted the conference.

The theme of the conference was �Applying Science to the Field.� Many presentations dealt with new opportunities and directions for soil survey. Over 60 soil scientists from universities and agencies from Texas to the Carolinas attended the meeting, which included a field tour of the Brazos Valley.

Don Gohmert, Texas state conservationist for NRCS, welcomed the attendees. He discussed how many of our customers have changed over the years as people retire from the cities and move to rural areas.

Micheal L. Golden, director of the NRCS soil survey division in Washington D.C., spoke about the 110 plus years of soil survey in the nation and how meeting customer needs has changed. He spoke of how soil survey in Texas began with the Soil Survey of the Willis Area in Montgomery County in 1901. Locally, it also included the Soil Survey of Robertson County by Hugh Hammond Bennett in 1909. He discussed how the meeting of customer needs has changed through the national geographic database, the Geospatial Data Gateway http://datagateway.nrcs.usda.gov and Web Soil Survey http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/HomePage.htm. Golden mentioned that Web Soil Survey has had 6.2 million visitors since it was released in August, 2005.

New directions that soil survey has taken includes a change in the ecological site inventory under the Ecological Site Information System (ESIS) http://esis.sc.egov.usda.gov/ and the Rapid Carbon Assessment program. Ecological sites include both forestry and range sites, as well as sites that do not fit either of these two categories. The Rapid Carbon Assessment is a planned two-year inventory of the organic carbon that is stored in the soil. Soil scientists will be describing and sampling various National Resources Inventory (NRI) sites.

The conference included a field tour of several soils and landscape ecological sites in Robertson and Brazos counties. Attendees viewed several soil series of the Claypan Major Land Resource Area (MLRA), including the Edge and Mabank series. A soil series is the name of a soil that has common soil properties and characteristics, such as color, texture, structure, organic matter and chemical properties such as pH. The name of the soil is often from a community close to where that particular soil was first mapped. The tour also included the mine-reclaimed soil series named Hammond on property leased by the Walnut Creek Mining Company in Bremond, Texas. The tour concluded with a drive through the Brazos Bottom cropland, and a viewing of the Ships series. The Ships series is a high shrink-swell clay soil known as a Vertisol.

The Hammond series is a mine-reclamation soil.

The Ships series is classified as a Vertisol. Several soil features known as slickensides can be seen along the left-hand portion of the photo from a depth of about two to four feet.

The Hammond series is a mine-reclamation soil.

The Ships series is classified as a Vertisol. Several soil features known as slickensides can be seen along the left-hand portion of the photo from a depth of about two to four feet.