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NSSH Amendment 11

This is a summary of changes to the National Soil Survey Handbook (NSSH). The official copy of the NSSH is the Web version. For paper copies of the handbook, download the updated Word files on the Web. However, if the Web version differs from the downloadable copy please inform the NSSH coordinator, Gary Muckel.

Part 602

Added regional conference bylaws.

Part 607 Survey Preparation

Exhibit 607-1 -- Added references. Changed some references relating to software and added State Statistical Abstracts as reference.
Exhibit 607-2 -- Added information on suppliers.

Part 609 Quality Control and Quality Assurance

609.01 Policy and Responsibilities -- Clarified responsibilities of MLRA offices.
609.06 Field Reviews -- Reworded to better reflect current policy on conducting within major land resource areas.
609.07 Soil Survey Manuscripts -- Responsibilities of MLRA office editors were changed.
Exhibit 609-1 Format for Correlation Memorandum -- Added statements.

Part 610 Maintaining Soil Surveys

References to the official copy were changed to official soil survey information. This reflects current policy of providing information electronically.
Information was changed related to reprinting to ordering replica CD-ROMs.
Text in soil survey evaluation was adjusted.
610.00 (b) -- The purpose of maintaining soil survey information is to ensure current and accurate seamless soil survey information is available to meet the needs of the majority of users. 
Part 610.01 -- Replaced. 
610.02 (a) -- Changed to: To prepare a legend for an MLRA, consolidate the soil legends of surveys of the MLRA land resource area.
610.02 (c) -- Changed to: Update and maintain by major land resource area. Deliver as subsets. 610.04 -- Minor rewording.
610.06 -- Changed the heading and content.
610.06 (c) -- Changed to make revisions to the Soil Data Warehouse for all areas of the soils in the major land resource area. 
Exhibit 610-1 Part C -- Minor changes.

Part 614 Applying Soil Taxonomy

This section was updated to reflect our current policy of entering data to NASIS as metric measurements, and also acknowledges that our classification standard (Soil Taxonomy) uses metric measurements in it's criteria. Note this does not imp0act the use of English units of measure in output products for customers.
614.01 -- Added responsibility statements for the NSSC.
614.04 (a) -- Added sections on regional and national committees.
614.05 (c) (1) -- Minor change made to reference regional soil taxonomy committee to receive proposals.
Exhibit 614-1 -- Dropped saturated hydraulic conductivity from instructions for first paragraph in OSD.
614.06 -- Added clarification to the application of soil series.
614.06 -- Dropped differentiae and refer to Chapter 21 of Soil Taxonomy.
614.06 (l) -- Added statement: Field descriptions and official soil series descriptions should use metric units of measurement.
Exhibit 614-1 -- Changed example to metric units.
Exhibit 614-2 -- Changed guidelines to more closely reflect existing policy and practice. Depths and thickness, temperature, precipitation, and elevation are in metric units of measure; legal descriptions, locations, and acreage are in English units.  Examples changed to reflect this existing policy and practice.
Exhibit 614-2 -- Changed order of redox features to agree with other guidance.
Exhibit 614-2 -- Change to: “Depths and thickness (cm), temperature (degrees C), precipitation (mm), and elevation (m) are in metric units of measure;"
Exhibit 614-2 Content of Type location -- Revised, feet and miles can be used in general location description. 

Part 617 Soil Interpretations

National interpretations were introduced and defined as a set of interpretations. This reflects work of the National Soil Interpretations Group.
Responsibilities were adjusted to reflect current practice. 
Material was added to stress the need to populate data to generate interpretations or receive “Not Rated” result.
617.01 Item (h) -- Added to: maintaining the criteria and templates for state and local interpretations  617.01 -- Moved policy in part 623.01(a) to part 617.
617.01 (f) -- Completely populate the data elements for major and minor components including map unit components that are higher taxonomic categories or miscellaneous areas.
617.04 -- Added section on proposed changes to standard interpretations.
617.05, 617.06, 617.07, and 617.08 -- Changes incorporated to address current interpretation procedures.
617.10 -- New section added on procedure for documenting soil interpretation criteria.
617.11 -- New section added on requirements for naming reports and interpretations.
Exhibit 617-1 -- Added new exhibit on Example of Descriptions for Documenting Interpretations.

Part 618

Changed references to SSIR #42.
618.10 -- Updated the definition of “normal” period" from the previously accepted 1961 to 1990 to the current standard of to 1971 to 2000 for the FFP, MAP, MAAT, and the Daily Average Potential Evapotranspiration. This agrees with accepted standards of the World meteorological Organization and is reflected in the current NRCS "Field Office Guide to Climate Data."
618.27 (e) -- Added for clarification of existing policy: "For example, a flat-shaped rock fragment that is 100 mm x 250 mm x 380 mm has an intermediate dimension of 250 mm, and is not counted as greater than 250 mm. A flat-shaped rock fragment that is 100 mm x 275 mm x 380 mm has an intermediate dimension of 275 mm, and is counted as greater than 250 mm."
618.55 Soil Erodibility Factors, USLE, RUSLE2 -- Clarification added to point out that saturated hydraulic conductivity (formerly permeability) as used in the erosion equation is for the soil profile. A conversion guide was added relating the permeability class codes of USLE to Ksat values for estimating K factors from the soil erodibility nomograph.
618.57 Soil Moisture Status
    (b) The suction break between the nonsatiated wet and satiated wet was corrected to 0.0.
    (c) Slight wording changes were made to point out that soil moisture status refers to map unit component long term information.
    (d) Clarification was added to point out the difference between point data (pedon) entrees and the entry for soil moisture status.
    (e) Clarification of intent.
618.58 -- Changed citation to “Landslides Investigation and Mitigation Special Report 247 Transportation Research Board National Research Council 1996” in 2nd paragraph in definition.
Exhibit 618-7 -- Added footnote to both LL and PI formulas.

Part 622

622.06 Hydric soils -- Updated reference in (b) Policy toreflect current policy:
    (b) Policy. The current criteria for generating a list of hydric soils is in the Federal Register, September 18, 2002, volume 67, number 181, page 58756. The reference for field identification of hydric soils is Field Indicators of Hydric Soils of the United States, Version 5.01 2003. (

Part 623

Cancelled part 623. Material incorporated into part 617.

Part 627 Legend and Data Development

627.08 (e) (4) -- Change citation to 627.03.
627.02 (e) -- Changed references to former "STATSGO" to "Digital General Soil Map of the U.S."
627.03 and Exhibit 627-1 -- Emphasis added to use only those miscellaneous areas on the approved list (This reinforces long-standing policy).
Added criteria to define components.
627.04 -- Changed lead in paragraphs.
627.06 (e) -- Depth phases were revised to metric units for consistency.
627.08 (d) -- Added statement: All soil descriptions are to be taken in metric units of centimeters to avoid errors of conversion.
Exhibit 627-1 Miscellaneous Areas -- Added clarification that phase criteria criteria should not be used in the component field in NASIS. There is a separate field  for phase terms. The miscellaneous area “Quarries” was removed from the example list because it is a phase for Pits, and therefore listed in error.
Exhibit 627-5 -- Added an electronic Feature and Symbol Legend as a tool.

Part 630 Benchmark Soils

Section rewritten.
Exhibit 630-2 -- Dropped list of Benchmark Soils by State as part of the NSSH because it is out-of-date. Current procedure is to maintain the benchmark soil designation in the on-line Soil Classification file and to print current lists from there.

Part 644 Soil Survey Manuscripts

Changed title and content to Part 644 Delivering Soil Survey Information.
Revised section to reflect current soil survey delivery products.
Modifications were made to part 644.00 to 644.07 to better reflect the broad scope of soil survey information instead of the previous and outdated orientation to complete, hard copy publications.
Exhibit 644-1 -- Added a list of required and optional sections of soil survey publications.
Dropped the Guide for Authors of Soil Survey Manuscripts because it is very out of date with current policy and procedures.

Part 648  Soil Geographic Databases

Cancelled part 648. Material incorporated into part 644.

Part 655 Technical Soil Services

655.01 -- Revised to better reflect current policy and organizational structure.
    Added reference to the Soil Data Mart as the official source of soil information.
    Added responsibilities for the National Technical Support Centers.