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Lending Our Neighbors a Helping Hand

NRCS Trains Haitians in the Science & Art of Soil Surveys

NRCS Soil Scientists and Haitian trainees sampling one of the sites.

This spring, Caribbean Area NRCS MLRA Soil Survey Leader, Manuel Matos, had the unique opportunity to work with a group of NRCS Soil Scientists leading a Pilot Soil Survey Project of 3,000 hectares in the Cul-de-Sac Area of Haiti.

The project was part of a joint program between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), NRCS, Direction Rurale Forestière et du Sol (DRFS) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR), Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (FAMV), and the USAID-funded WINNER soils laboratory and training facility at Bas Boen.

Haitian trainees learn clod making and bulk density labeling from Steve Monteith (with box) & ManuelThe goal of the project is to build capacity within MARNDR to enable Haitian soil scientists to conduct a detailed soil survey of the entire country. Other project objectives are to:

  1. develop skills to plan, conduct, and disseminate soils information;
  2. demonstrate the usefulness of soil surveys in resource planning and management; and
  3. publish online soil survey maps and a hard-copy soil survey that will include interpretations for such uses as crops, urban development, erosion, and soil degradation; land use capability and limitations; and recommended management practices.

Manuel Matos (left) teaches a trainee to describe color and clay films for the pedon descriptions.From March 23rd to April 1st, the group of scientists worked with 15 Haitian soil scientist trainees to select, describe, classify and sample soils. As part of the project, 13 soil characterization samples were collected for detailed analysis. This two-week assignment was the final phase of field work in the pilot soil survey project. The team used the most current soil survey procedures in order to provide Haitian scientists with soil survey information needed for agricultural, conservation, engineering and land use planning applications. The participation of NRCS soil scientists was a continuation of training activities that began in the summer of 2013 during the visit of a Haitian delegation to the USDA–NRCS National Soil Survey Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Manuel Matos, MLRA Soil Survey Leader, at 787-831-3416 x. 108.