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News Release

Jory Soil Selected as Oregon’s Official State Soil

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Release No. 2011.06-003
Thor Thorson,Chad McGrath, State Soils Scientist, (503) 414-3003, Chad.McGrath@or.usda.gov
Sara Magenheimer, State Public Affairs Officer, 503-414-3250, Sara.Magenheimer@or.usda.gov

 

PORTLAND, Ore., June 23, 2011— Jory soil has recently been recognized by the Oregon Legislature as the official state soil formally highlighting the significant role it plays in Oregon’s diverse landscape.

Commercial Christmas trees located south of Salem in Marion County; photo taken June 21, 2011 west of Interstate 5Oregon soils support the production of over 225 agricultural commodities and many species of trees and grasses. They are also extremely important to the environment as they act as a natural filter to clean water as it moves down through the soil profile.

“We are thrilled that Oregon has taken steps to officially designate their state soil,” said Chad McGrath, State Soil Scientist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Oregon. “This recognition helps reinforce the critical role soil plays in all of our lives. Soil is the foundation of our environment, providing the medium for root growth supporting grasses, shrubs, crops and trees that support Oregon’s diverse landscape and abundant agricultural and natural resource base.”

The Jory soil is recognizable by its red coloring and can be found in nine western Oregon counties on over 300,000 acres. Throughout the Interstate-5 corridor, a variety of crops and forests supported by Jory soil are visible on the foothills to the east and west of the valley.

Various crops including orchards, Christmas trees, and wine grapes on Jory soil located south of Salem in Marion County; photo taken June 21, 2011 west of Interstate 5Although the Jory soil is found only in western Oregon, the soil developed mainly on Columbia River Basalt bedrock, originating from eastern Oregon lava flows. The weathering of these basalt uplands produced the deep, well-drained, rich, red characteristics of the Jory soil. These soil properties give the Jory soil a high productivity and capability for producing a wide variety of crops, orchards, vineyards, and high forest productivity.

“I would like to especially thank the many members of the Oregon Soil Science Society for their role in scientifically selecting the Jory soil as the state soil and then working diligently to get it officially recognized” said Scott Burns, Professor of Geology at Portland State University. “Oregon students will now learn about the importance of soil as a resource for it has great agricultural and environmental impacts in Oregon.”

Soil is the thin mantle of the earth’s crust that helps support life. There are more living creatures in a shovel full of rich soil than there are human beings on the planet. A number of pharmaceuticals, especially antibiotics, have been developed from the diverse population of microbes living in soil.

No single soil type is universally found throughout the state and NRCS has identified over 2,000 types of soils within the borders of Oregon. These varied types of soils have made it possible for Oregonians to build one of the most diverse, vibrant agricultural and natural resource economies in the country.

In Oregon, forestry and agricultural enterprises contribute over $38 billion and more than 271,000 jobs to Oregon’s economy, nearing 25% of all economic activity in the state. Distinctive Oregon soil, such as Jory, is the foundation of this diverse and productive environment. Oregon ranks number one in the nation in Christmas trees production and a majority of them are grown on Jory soil. Oregon is also fourth in the nation in wine production and its Pinot Noir has won both national and international awards. Many of the vineyards producing grapes for the wine industry are located on Jory soil.

NRCS provides expertise in soil science and leadership for soil surveys across the country. To learn more about the soils in your area visit the USDA Web Soil Survey at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app.

The following Oregon counties have Jory soils: Benton, Yamhill, Clackamas, Polk, Marion, Linn, Douglas, Lane and Washington.

Photos by Daniel Herrigstad, NRCS Public Affairs:
Photo 1; Commercial Christmas trees located south of Salem in Marion County; photo taken June 21, 2011 west of Interstate 5.
Photo 1; Various crops including orchards, Christmas trees, and wine grapes on Jory soil located south of Salem in Marion County; photo taken June 21, 2011 west of Interstate 5.

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