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News Release

Cooperative Soil Science Meeting Success and 2018 Highlight Report Released

2018 Cooperative Soil ScienceMadison, Wis. ‒ April 9, 2018 ‒ The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Wisconsin brought together 40 partners from across the state for the 2018 Wisconsin Cooperative Soil Science Planning Meeting, held at UW-Platteville, March 29th, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to bring cooperators and other soil science supporters up-to-date on soil survey activities in the state and to prioritize, plan and coordinate soil survey and technical soil services for future soil data use.

“The soils program is a partnership where everyone has a voice. It’s not just an NRCS program, it’s a comprehensive Wisconsin soils program; the meeting provided opportunity to hear about the changing needs in the state and how we all can work together to bring soils to the forefront and inform soil data users,” said NRCS State Soil Scientist, Jason Nemecek.

Demand and user volume for technical soils information is growing. The Wisconsin Cooperative Soil Science Program looks at the agricultural community as a critical user base but also recognizes many other groups utilize soils information. Needs are constantly changing. As needs change, partners work together to develop new data methods to meet those needs.

“Soil science is the basis for our agency being formed back in 1933. The Soil Erosion Service, now NRCS, selected Coon Creek as the first watershed in which to demonstrate the values of soil science and conservation. We’ve made so much progress from that point and want to continue our efforts through this partnership,” said Nemecek. He explains further, “Soil science plays a critical role in what we do. As needs change, which data we collect and how we collect it also changes. The information we collected and knew 30 or 100 years ago is different than what we collect today. Data is continually being improved, enhanced, and maintained to meet our customer’s needs.”

Participants identified and discussed state priorities and opportunities for partners to collaborate in meeting statewide soil survey goals. The program provides soil data and vital information used for a wide variety of purposes affecting millions of Wisconsin residents. These purposes include, but are not limited to, real estate valuation, local property taxation, farm crop productivity, wetland conservation, soil erosion protection, improving water quality and many more uses in Wisconsin.

There will always be a need for soil scientists to collect and improve data, provide technical soil services and educate landowners and partners on soil practices. Soil scientists must have broad knowledge of many different disciplines, such as ecology, geology, agronomy, forestry, GIS, data science, and more. Soil science has traditionally included soil formation; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties; and relation to landform and landscapes.

As populations increase, a heavy strain is placed on agriculture. Soils are the backbone of agriculture and soil quality is critical to our future. Soil quality, soil ecolog, and the importance of organic matter management are crucial in managing fertility and lessening drought impact. Soil science needs to adapt to the changing times and expand beyond primarily survey activities. Data science, geospatial analytics and new delivery tools will be the key to a successful soil science future.

Read more about the benefits provided through the Cooperative Soil Science Program in the Cooperative Soil Science 2018 Highlights Report. For additional information about the Wisconsin Soils Program visit the Wisconsin NRCS Soils Webpage.

 

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