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Soil Science Research

Information on NRCS-SPSD research focus areas, staff, and recent publications.

Soil Survey Research Program


Legislative Mandate PL 89-560:

The Soil Survey Program “promotes the soil survey and provides technical assistance in its use for a wide range of community planning and resource development issues related to non-farm and farm uses.”

Soil Research

  1. collects high quality soil data to support soil survey and deepen knowledge and understanding of soil landscapes;
  2. generates and improves soil interpretations by providing in-depth research;
  3. provides training and supporting documents for the successful conductance of field soil surveys; and
  4. develops new standards and methodologies for soil investigations.

Major Goals

Conducts research on soil genesis, functions, and behavior under natural and anthropogenic influences. Provides soil characterization data and develops standards and training in support of the National Cooperative Soil Survey at national and international levels. Provides data and technical information support for conservation programs.

Research Branch Staff

Skye Wills, Ph.D.National Leader for Soil Science Research
Research interests: Soil carbon, sampling statistics, inference space of research results     
Link to bio

Tiffany Carter, Ph.D.Assistant National Leader for Soil Science Research
Research interests: Biologic soil health indicators, microbiology, techniques for carbon quantification
Link to bio

Ekundayo Adeleke, Ph.D.Natural Resource Specialist
Research interests: Dynamic soil properties, soil biochemistry and biodiversity, soil management, agricultural soils, method development
Link to bio

Katy Dynarski, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: soil carbon dynamics, soil health, biogeochemistry, working lands
Link to bio

Ryan Hodges, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: Pedology, taxonomy, soil mineralogy, volcanic ash-influenced, and tropical/acid soil systems
Link to bio

Jonathan Maynard, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: Soil spectroscopy, biogeochemistry, soil inference systems
Link to bio

Travis Nauman, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: Digital soil mapping, ecological management frameworks, pedology, erosional processes
Link to bio

Amanda Pennino, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: Hydropedology, soil moisture, forest soils, physical and hydraulic soil properties
Link to bio

Philip RivaraData Manager 
Link to bio

Erin Rooney, Ph.D.Research Soil Scientist
Research interests: Permafrost, soil disturbance, microprocesses, iron-carbon interactions and redox
Link to bio

Regional Research Liaisons

Research liaisons serve as a point of contact for their assigned region. They can provide general information about soil survey research and put regional staff in touch with experts for specific questions or studies. Each scientist can provide technical and academic advice and information in their area of expertise.

Alaska – Erin Rooney
Northwest – Jon Maynard
Southwest – Travis Nauman
North Central – Ekundayo Adeleke
South Central – Tiffany Carter
Northeast – Amanda Pennino
Southeast – Ryan Hodges

Recent Publications From the Research Branch

Bower, Jennifer A. , Donald S. Ross, Scott W. Bailey, Amanda M. Pennino, Michael J. Jercinovic, Kevin J. McGuire, Brian D. Strahm, and Madeline E. Schreiber. 2023. “Development of a lateral topographic weathering gradient in temperate forested podzols.” Geoderma 439: 116677.

Buenemann, Michaela, Marina E. Coetzee, Josephat Kutuahupira, Jonathan J. Maynard, and Jeffery E. Herrick. 2023. “Errors in soil maps: The need for better on-site estimates and soil map predictions.” Plos one 18 (1): e0270176.

Lin, James S., Marcos V. Sarto, Tiffany L. Carter, Dallas E. Peterson, Colleen Gura, Laura Mino, Megan Rohrs, Hallie Lucas, Jamie Clark, and Charles W. Rice. 2023. “Soil organic carbon, aggregation and fungi community after 44 years of no-till and cropping systems in the Central Great Plains, USA.” Archives of Microbiology 205(3): 84.

Maynard, Jonathan J., Edward Yeboah, Stephen Owusu, Michaela Buenemann, Jason C. Neff, and Jeffrey E. Herrick. 2022. “Accuracy of regional-to-global soil maps for on-farm decision making: Are soil maps ‘good enough’?” EGUsphere 2022: 1–35.

McNellis, Brandon E., Anna C. Knight, Travis W. Nauman, Sam N. Chambers, C.W. Brungard, Stephen E. Fick, Carolyn G. Livensperger, S. Borthwick, and Michael C. Duniway. 2023. “Livestock removal increases plant cover across a heterogeneous dryland landscape on the Colorado Plateau.” Environmental Research Letters 18 (3): 034034.

Nauman, Travis W., Seth M. Munson, Saroj Dhital, Nicholas P. Webb, and Michael C. Duniway. 2023. “Synergistic soil, land use, and climate influences on wind erosion on the Colorado Plateau: Implications for management.” Science of the Total Environment 893: 164605.



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