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Soil Survey Interpretations Team

Main photo for the Soil Survey Interpretations Team.Overview

Soil survey interpretations is the science of creating models to predict the effect of soil properties on land use. Historically, the models were focused on the land uses directly affecting of humans; however, they have evolved to also quantify how organisms and chemicals interact with soils and landscapes with indirect effects on humans. Currently, a rule-based fuzzy logic system embedded in the National Soil Survey Information System (NASIS) using contemporary soil survey data is the platform for modeling.

The Soil Survey Interpretations Team partners with the Soil Survey Database Team to identify missing or peculiar data. It works with the Initial Mapping Team to learn what new interpretations are needed for areas having unique land uses and ecologies. It also collaborates with the Coastal Zone Soil Survey and Urban Soils Teams to create models that can help land use decisions in those environments. The Soil Survey Interpretations Team, with the collaboration of the Digital Soil Mapping Team, is developing future interpretive models that will use authoritative raster inputs to produce high-resolution, spatially explicit soil performance maps. It works with the Communications and Outreach Team to educate and inform the public on the value of soil survey interpretations.

Interpretations Charges button.
  • Form an interdisciplinary working group to enhance and preserve the body of knowledge and techniques used in the process of creating soil survey interpretations
  • Develop new interpretations to address current needs and maintain the existing ones
  • Enhance the documentation of current interpretations
  • Demonstrate, using interpreted information, the essentiality of the soil survey across the spectrum of land use
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  • Interpretations Testing web page for viewing the results of new interpretations
  • Subaqueous Soil Data web page (certain subaqueous soil data is not in the SSURGO data structure)
  • Interpretations and documentation for soil-based conservation practice standards
  • Forestry interpretations modernization
  • Tropical crop productivity
  • Soil suitability for southern highbush blueberries
  • Manure stacking
  • Soil suitability for industrial hemp for seed and fiber
  • Soil habitat for the Valley fever pathogen using soil survey data
  • Electrical conductivity of soils lacking excess soluble salts
  • Soil suitability for aronia berry
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  • Understanding Soil Interpretations – Ag Learn Class (INTP 1010)
  • The Science of Interpretations – Ag Learn Class (INTP 2020)
  • Designing and Developing Interpretations – Ag Learn Class (INTP 3030)
  • Soil Survey Manual, Chapter 8, Interpretations: The Impact of Soil Properties on Land Use
  • National Soil Survey Handbook, Part 617, Soil Survey Interpretations
  • NASIS User Guide, Chapters 19-21
  • On-the-job training by appointment after completion of the Ag Learn courses
Interpretations Sub-Teams button.

Science – This group works to determine which soil and site properties affect a land use. They search the literature and anecdotal evidence to discover relationships and interactions that will allow them to establish critical thresholds for how soils and sites control or influence the interactions between land and uses. They then synthesize conceptual models to describe the degree of effect of each variable.

Design and Development – This group works with the rule-based fuzzy logic system in the NASIS Client. They use the concepts provided by the Science Sub-Team to create data extraction and evaluation systems. These systems are used to build the rules and sub-rules that will quantify the degree of suitability or limitation a soil has for the land use being modeled.

Validation – This groups works to thoroughly test interpretive results within the geographic domains of their intended applicability. Because the relative effects of soil properties are often geographic, methodology that identifies and accounts for the differences is needed to make interpretative models that are accurate and equitable.

Documentation – This group will gather the references and rationale used in creating interpretive models, along with images and diagrams describing them, to create documentation brochures for the models. These publications will be made available to the public on an appropriate website.

Interpretations Ad Hoc Teams button.
  • Soil Mass Movement (contact Alan Moore, Sub-Team Leader)
  • Hydrologic Soil Group Investigation
  • Forestry Interpretations Modernization
  • Disasters (Covid Response, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS))
Interpretations Reports button.

Fiscal Year 2020 (PDF; 4.21 MB; 11/16/2020)

Focus Team Webinar (PDF; 4.94 MB; 05/21/2020)

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Focus Team Meeting

Science of Interpretations, February 15-18, 2022
Science of Interpretations, November 30-December 3, 2021
Designing and Developing Interpretations, March 3-5, 2020

Interpretations Contact button.

Robert Dobos, Soil Scientist, Soil and Plant Science Division, Lincoln, NE

Interpretations Members button.
  • Meredith Albers, Soil Scientist, Colchester, VT
  • Dylan Beaudette, Soil Scientist, National Soil Survey Center
  • Steve Campbell, Soil Scientist, West National Technology Support Center
  • Erik Dahlke, Soil Survey Office Leader, Olympia, WA
  • Wayne Gabriel, Senior Regional Soil Scientist, Temple, TX
  • Jeff Glanville, Assistant State Soil Scientist, Columbus, OH
  • John Hammerly, Soil Data Quality Specialist, Indianapolis, IN
  • Kamara Holmes, Soil Scientist, East National Technology Support Center
  • Jacob Isleib, Soil Scientist, Tolland, CT
  • Nicole Jacobsen, Forest Certification Program Lead, WA Department of Natural Resources
  • Tony Jenkins, State Resource Conservationist, Bangor, ME
  • Manuel Matos, State Soil Scientist, Puerto Rico
  • Alan Moore, Soil Data Quality Specialist, Region 6
  • Dee Pederson, Assistant State Soil Scientist, Athens, GA
  • Angelica Quintana, Soil Scientist, USFS
  • Rich Reid, Soil Scientist, Central National Technology Support Center
  • Kristine Ryan, State Soil Scientist, South Carolina
  • Aron Sattler, Area Resource Soil Scientist, Beckley, WV
  • Debbie Surabian, State Soil Scientist, Tolland, CT
  • Curtis Talbot, Range Management Specialist, Las Cruces, NM