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Wisconsin Soil Survey History and Activities

On May 15, 2006, all intial Wisconsin soil surveys were completed (digitized, certified, and made available online through Web Soil Survey). In celebration, Governor Doyle proclaimed 2006 to be the Year of Soil. Since this time, the MLRA soil survey program has redirected its efforts toward improving and updating the soils information in Wisconsin.


Current Soil Survey Update Projects

Soil Surveys are updated by MLRA Soil Survey soil scientists on a project basis. When projects are completed, the data goes through quality reviews and is then published to Web Soil Survey.

Soil Survey Objectives

With collaboration from our partners, we developed four strategic objectives.

Objective 1 A Seamless Database

The initial phase of Wisconsin's modern soil survey took place over the span of over 50 years. This resulted in a patchwork of soil survey vintages.  The surveys completed in the early years of the soil survey were mapped with different concepts and tools than those completed in the latter years.  Soil concepts of the early soil surveys were centered on political boundaries, rather than the more natural geomorphic boundaries.  The result was a sometimes conflicting join along county boundaries.  In order to remedy this inconsistency, the soil survey staff is:

  • Conducting MLRA soil survey projects to update soil survey tabular and spatial data
  • Creating a statewide map unit legend and correlating map unit concepts across similar geomorphic regions.

Objective 2 Consistency in Data

Due to the variation in soil survey vintages and the county centric soil concepts of early soil surveys, similar soil map units across county boundaries may or may not have similar properties and interpretations.  The MLRA soil survey will create seamless databases through update projects and harmonization of soil data to provide more consistent data between counties.

Objective 3 New and Improved Interpretations

Soil survey interpretations predict soil behavior for specified uses and under specified management practices. There are many existing interpretations that use soil properties to aid land owners, managers, and natural resource professionals in making wise land use decisions and resolving complex natural resource issues.  However many of these interpretations are written for national use and do not consider local policy and resource concerns.  The Wisconsin soil survey program works with resource professionals at the local and state level to identify needs for new local interpretations and improvements for existing interpretations.

Objective 4 Targeted increases in Customers

The success of Web Soil Survey has lead to the creation of new digital products to satisfy the needs of our diverse users.  State, Area, and MLRA soil scientists educate users about the products currently available.  Soil scientists meet with public and private sector users to inform them of available sources of soil survey information and teach them how to use the information.