The Coastal Plainer
Volume 9, Number 1
3381 Skyway Drive, P.O. Box 311, Auburn, AL 36830
This has been a very exciting year because of the various soil survey efforts throughout the MO–15 Soil Survey Region. We have been very busy this summer carrying out important annual regional soil survey program business activities. I would like to share a few of those business activities with you.
First, I want to thank everyone that participated in the 2004 joint Board of Directors meeting for MOs –14, –15, –16, and –18. The meeting was on June 10, 2004, at Biloxi, Mississippi, and was a success. Participants included NRCS representatives from fourteen states, the Soil Survey Division, the National Soil Survey Center, and the National Cartographic and Geospatial Center. I was especially pleased that Dr. Joey Shaw, Auburn University, and Dr. Billy Kingery and Dr. Mike Collins, both from Mississippi State University, participated in the meeting.
This year’s meeting provided an opportunity to discuss some of our important challenges, such as the future of the soil scientist career ladder, the establishment of MLRA Project Offices, and electronic delivery of soil survey information utilizing the Soil Data Mart. Of special note was Dr. Joey Shaw’s thought provoking report on behalf of the representatives of South Regional Soil Survey. His comments should challenge us to work closely with our university cooperators to maintain or renew our partnerships.
I am very happy to announce the signing of the MLRA Region 15 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for implementation by the Board of Directors. The Region 15 MOU serves as a blanket document for conducting project area management business, such as the coordinating and continuing modernization efforts for all soil surveys within the business area. Also, the MOU will facilitate the establishment of super project offices for conducting soil survey activities within the region. I would like to commend the State Conservationists and cooperators for their 100 percent support in facilitating the development and implementation of this MO-wide Management Area Business Agreement.
I am very excited to welcome Jerome Langlinais as the Leader for the MLRA Project Office at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the second MLRA Soil Survey Project Leader in the MO–15 region. Jerome will be responsible for providing leadership for soil survey activities in portions of Major Land Resource Areas 129–Sand Mountain, 133A–Southern Coastal Plain, 135–Alabama Blackland Prairies, and 136–Southern Piedmont (about 9 million acres within this soil survey area). Prior to this position, Jerome served as a project leader for the Soil Survey of Natchez County, Mississippi.
I wish everyone great success in FY–05.
With data for more than 1,600 soil surveys, the Soil Data Mart is becoming the one-stop-shop for digital soils data. Once the tabular and/or spatial data is posted to the Soil Data Mart, that data becomes the official copy for the soil survey.
The Soil Data Mart allows you to:
Tabular data can be posted to the Data Mart independently. Spatial data,
however, can only be posted if the tabular data has been joined with it and is
SSURGO certified. Using the Data Mart is basically straight forward; however,
there is a caveat. There is no map for selecting an area of interest, so the
user must select the entire county and/or survey area. Once the survey area is
chosen, the user can then generate a download request, view metadata, generate
reports, and subscribe to receive update notifications.
By John L. Burns, Soil Scientist
Mr. Mike Golden, Director of the National Soil Survey Division, attended the Alabama Cooperative Soil Survey Work Planning Conference at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in March 2004. Tuscaloosa is the site for the second super soil survey project office in Alabama.
Mr. Golden grew up near Ada, Oklahoma, and has a B.S. in Agronomy (Soils) from Oklahoma State University. Mr. Golden mentioned that he is very interested in genealogy and that he has family roots in Alabama. He has 30 years of work experience with the agency, mostly in New Mexico and Texas. Before starting his current position, he was the leader for Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) Region 9 and State Soil Scientist of Texas.
Mike Golden is a down-to-earth kind of individual, genuine, and a field person who worked his way up through the ranks. While at the Alabama Soils Conference, he mentioned the many goals he has as Director of Soil Survey. Some of the things that he supports include the MLRA Project Office concept, the MO structure, Technical Soil Services in states, the National Soil Survey Center and National leaders, the National Cartography and Geospatial Center soil support branch, the SSURGO initiative, the Geospatial Data Warehouse, a publication “Web Soil Survey” Data Mart (http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/), the next generation of NASIS (National Soil Information System, which in 2 to 3 years will be web based), and the Soil Data Viewer.
He mentioned at the conference that Soil Survey is going to the next level through marketing, technical soil services, and new technology. The new web-based soil surveys (like the Soil Data Mart) will be able to be customized to deliver the information the customer needs.
We look forward to Mike’s continuing tenure as the Director of National Soil Survey Division.
By Greg Brannon, Soil Data Quality Specialist
The first year of the hyperthermic/isohyperthermic study was concluded in February of 2004. The data loggers were recovered, and new ones were installed in several sites north and south along the Tamiami Trail from east of Naples to the Homestead area.
Preliminary data indicate the existence of an isohyperthermic region extending from just south of Everglades City to Homestead, but additional data will be required to confirm this hypothesis. The Florida Keys have already been established as being isohyperthermic. A tentative date of the first week in March 2005 has been set to retrieve the data loggers and to conclude the study.
Participants included Henry Mount, soil scientist from the NSSL; Warren Henderson, Florida State Soil Scientist; Greg Brannon, soil data quality specialist; Howard Yamataki and Ken Liudahl, resource soil scientists; and personnel from the Department of Interior.
Over 30 USDA employees recently received training on ESRI’s ArcGIS software. A 3-day workshop was held at Auburn University Library. Although many of the participants were from Alabama, some came from as far away as Puerto Rico and Idaho. MO–15 hopes to host this training again in the spring of 2005.
Additional information regarding GIS training provided through the National Employee Development Center and the National Cartographic and Geospatial Center is available on the Web.
Digital Soil Survey Mapping and Updating: http://www.nedc.nrcs.usda.gov/catalog/soildigit.html.
Introduction to ArcGIS 1 (for ArcView 8, ArcEditor 8, and ArcInfo 8): http://www.ncgc.nrcs.usda.gov/branch/gdb/products/training/course-description/igis1.html.
NRCS has recently gone to a tremendous effort to increase the availability of soils-related data on the Web.
The Soil Data Mart (http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/) provides a download site for tabular and spatial data. Downloads available from the site include SSURGO data sets that are usable in GIS applications and publication-quality tables that are generated from the official survey data.
The Geospatial Data Gateway (http://datagateway.nrcs.usda.gov/) provides a download site for a wide variety of spatial data, including GIS layers for soils, hydrography, roads, orthoimagery, and topography.
The NRCS Soils Web site (http://soils.usda.gov/) provides a central point for soils information and includes links to NRCS data, documents, and standards. It also includes links to various news stories about soils.
The PLANTS database (http://plants.usda.gov/) provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, plant links, references, crop information, and automated tools.
The NSSC Soil Survey Laboratory Research Database (http://ssldata.nrcs.usda.gov/) allows users to generate, download, and print reports containing soil characterization data stored and maintained by the NSSC Soil Survey Laboratory.
It only takes a few minutes of scanning these sites to begin to understand the huge amount of data that is now available online.
Auburn University and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station will host the 25th Southeastern Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest on October 22, 2004. Dr. Joey Shaw, Associate Professor, Department of Agronomy and Soils, is expecting 13 teams from universities in the Southeast Region to compete in this event. The teams of undergraduate students will test their skills in describing and classifying soils and in identifying soil properties that are important to use and management.
Soil scientists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service will serve as judges for the contest. The Professional Soil Classifiers Association of Alabama (PSCAA) will sponsor a banquet for participants and coaches prior to the contest.
From “Tools for Educators” by the National Soil Survey Center; CD distributed by MLRA Office 15.
Soils are among our most important natural resources. They are also important for the beauty their many colors add to our landscapes. Most of us overlook this natural beauty because we see it every day. Often these colors blend with vegetation, sky, water, etc. Soil colors serve as pigments in bricks and pottery.
If you look at the works of many of the great artists, you will notice that “earth colors” are dominant. The color and texture of soil painting is fascinating and a creative opportunity for all ages of students.
Preparing the Soils
Issues of this newsletter are available on the Internet on the MO–15 homepage (http://www.mo15.nrcs.usda.gov/). Click on "News" and then on "The Coastal Plainer."
You are invited to submit stories for future issues to Aaron Achen, editor, MO–15, Auburn, Alabama. Voice—(402) 437-4157; FAX—(402) 437-5336; e-mail—Aaron.Achen@nssc.nrcs.usda.gov.
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