Creating Functional Soil Maps for Land Management
USDA ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center
TCS Building 240
Soil properties and processes determine and regulate a number of ecosystem services that humanity relies upon. Though soil properties are inherently fuzzy, for more than 100 years, scientists represented soil properties as soil polygon maps with discrete boundaries between soil mapping units.
Now, with the advent of computational resources, high quality digital elevation models, online Soil Survey (SSURGO) data, geographic information systems (GIS) and powerful geo -referencing tools, Dr. Owens has developed an approach for representation and prediction of soil properties based on soil functional homogeneity rather than the morphological or taxonomic heterogeneity. The process recognizes the oversimplification introduced in the representation of soils as discrete polygons and uses landscape attributes to develop terrain relationships between soil and landscape properties to create spatially continuous soil property representations.
This presentation will demonstrate digital methods to map soil properties such as plant available water, organic carbon content, texture, and depth of soil to name a few. Currently, the process is being utilized to map the entire nations of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The process of providing predictions of spatially heterogeneous soil properties can be used both internationally and domestically for multiple implications.