The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is proud to announce the completion of its initial survey that identifies soil conditions in Texas. To commemorate this historic event, representatives of the agencies and organizations involved with the Texas Cooperative Soil Survey will host a “Last Acre” Ceremony on Wednesday, November 10, 2010, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Blackland Research and Extension Center, 720 East Blackland Road, Temple, Texas. The public is invited to attend.
“This is a tremendous milestone, not only for the NRCS but also for the state,” says Dennis Williamson, NRCS Texas State Soil Scientist. “Texas’ soil survey efforts began with a Reconnaissance Soil Survey in 1899. Since then, soil scientists have walked Texas landscapes digging holes and collecting information on nearly 1,300 different soil types in the state.”
High quality, productive soils are the foundation upon which a healthy environment and enhanced natural resources are built. The surveying and monitoring of soils ensure an accurate account of those conditions. The availability of this information affords the opportunity to make sound educated decisions regarding land-use planning for everyone’s benefit. Soil surveys are used by city planners, farmers, ranchers, developers, construction companies, teachers, realtors, and numerous other professionals.
The “Last Acre” event will feature soil scientists and soil displays representing the key agencies and organizations involved in the cooperative soil survey. The festivities also will celebrate NRCS’ 75th anniversary. The USDA agency was established 75 years ago with a mission to help people help the land.
To get an accurate picture of what soils are where, soil scientists have walked most of Texas’ 172 million acres. Along the way, they examined the soil and collected samples. The soil scientists described the samples and sent them to the Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University Soil Laboratories and the NRCS National Soil Survey Laboratory for further analysis.
The information obtained from the fieldwork is made available to the public as soil surveys that are printed, included on compact disks or viewable via the Internet at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/. Soil surveys include maps showing the locations of soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information about potential uses and problems associated with various uses. With the last acre in the state now mapped, this information is now available for every Texas County.
Texas’ soil survey program is led by the NRCS, with other USDA agencies, Texas Agri-Life Extension and Research, various Texas universities, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and local soil and water conservation districts providing funding, personnel, soil analysis and research.
“The soil survey of Texas is a perfect example of how much more can be accomplished with a cooperative effort,” said Williamson. “Without the superb cooperation of local, state and federal entities in Texas, our initial soil survey would be a long way from completion.”
Williamson said work will continue, using modern technology, to refine Texas’ soil surveys and to provide more assistance to landowners and natural resource agencies so that they can better manage land under their care. The extra effort will add to the wealth of soils information, and to better use of that information.
For additional information regarding the “Last Acre” ceremony, please contact Ann Graham, NRCS Soil Staff, at 254-742-9862 or [email protected].