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Soil Survey Interpretations Team

Main photo for the Soil Survey Interpretations Team.Overview

Soil survey interpretation is the science of creating models to predict the impact of soil properties on land use. Historically, the models were focused on the actions of humans; however, they have evolved to also quantify how organisms and chemicals interact with soils and landscapes. Currently, a rule-based fuzzy logic system embedded in the National Soil Survey Information System (NASIS) that uses 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.

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  • 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 and maintain the existing ones
     
  • Enhance the documentation of current interpretations
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  • Interpretations for soil-based conservation practice standards
     
  • Forestry interpretations modernization
     
  • Tropical crop productivity
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  • Understanding Soil Interpretations – Ag Learn Class
     
  • The Science of Interpretations – Ag Learn Class
     
  • Designing and Developing Interpretations – Ag Learn Class
     
  • 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
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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 impact of each variable.

Design and Development – This group works with the rule-based fuzzy logic system. 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.

Validation – This groups works to thoroughly test interpretive results within the geographic domains of their intended applicability. Because the relative impacts of soil properties are 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.
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Robert Dobos, Soil Scientist, Soil and Plant Science Division, Lincoln, NE

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  • Meredith Albers, Soil Scientist, Colchester, Vermont
  • Tony Jenkins, State Resource Conservationist, Bangor, Maine
  • Jeff Glanville, Assistant State Soil Scientist, Columbus, Ohio
  • Aron Sattler, Area Resource Soil Scientist, Beckley, West Virginia
  • Wayne Gabriel, Senior Regional Soil Scientist, Temple, Texas
  • Rich Reid, Soil Scientist, Central National Technology Support Center, Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Curtis Talbot, Range Management Specialist, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Dee Pederson, Acting State Soil Scientist, Nashville, Tennessee