When landowners purchase a new plot of land, the best course of action they can follow to evaluate the land for agricultural use is to locate a soil map and begin to study. The following guide will take a look at what a soil map is, what information they can reveal about a particular plot of land, and how this information can be used to determine the best use for the property. In addition, the guide will also take a look at the Web Soil System and how it can be utilized by landowners in a similar manner.
What is a Soil Map?
A soil map is a type of geological display that shows the variety of soil types and the various properties that make up this soil in a given area. These maps are usually created through a soil survey or soil inventory. Once finished, these maps can be used by landowners and developers to positively influence their use of the land. Soil type maps are one of the first tools agricultural developers utilize when developing a plan for a parcel of land.
What Information Can Soil Maps Reveal?
An accurate soil map can reveal the different layers of soil present on a piece of land, and what properties make up these different layers. However, it is important to note that the information soil maps provide is a baseline figure. Most soil maps are not an exact representation of the current soil on a given property. These maps are instead a composite of years of research. If you need up to date and exact soil composition metrics you will need to have a soil test or other studies completed on your property.
What Are Soil Maps Used For?
To put it simply, soil maps can be used to evaluate when and where certain agricultural developments can best take place on a given plot of land. More specifically, a soil map can be used to estimate the composition of the land. For example, if you study a soil map for a given piece of land and recognize that there are a lot of slopes present in the soil you may think twice about planting crops in these areas. However, the same area may be suitable to establish fields for hay or an open pasture for livestock. In addition to being used as a means to determine agricultural production, soil maps can also be used to help developers determine what type and size of septic system a given area can support.
The Web Soil System (WSS)
The Web Soil System was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture. This soil system is essentially an online database that can be used to determine the soil qualities of a particular plot of land. Unlike soil maps, which are often established for a particular country or sometimes even a specific plot of land, this database is more difficult to use because it covers a much larger area. However, if you are a developer and you learn to master the Web Soil System, your job will certainly become easier.
Utilizing Soil Maps
At first, the soil map definition can be tricky to grasp. However, once you start utilizing these maps and becoming familiar with how they work, they will become your best friend during all of your agricultural projects. Just to review, soil maps look at the composition of soil over a given area of land. This composition may even include the various sediments estimated to be contained in the soil. Using this information, you will be able to plan out how to best use a given plot of land.