Farmers, ranchers, and others attending the San Antonio International Farm and Ranch Show at the Expo Hall on the Freeman Coliseum grounds, 3201 East Houston Street, on Oct. 14-16, will have an opportunity to learn how to use the Web Soil Survey (WSS) at the 1 p.m. educational track on Thurs., Oct. 14.

Attendees can also receive a free hands-on demonstration of how to map the soils on their land using the free online program at the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) booth during the course of the show.  NRCS specialists will be available to visit with landowners about the technical and financial assistance programs, without a fee, through NRCS, to help them meet land management goals.

Most all Texas’ counties have a soil survey, an inventory of the different soil types and location in the county. The soil survey provides aerial maps with soil boundaries, soil descriptions, and tables of soil properties and shows how the soil can be used. The survey information is available free of charge online on the Web Soil Survey at http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/ and the Soil Data Mart at http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/.

Decision tool

WSS can assist landowners in making decisions relative to farming and ranching operations—differences in ecological sites and the plants capable of growing on that site, erosive soils, which soil sites will provide the greatest benefit from aerial spraying or other brush management practices.

“Interp maps provided through WSS can help the producer determine yield potentials when planting crops and implementing pasture and hay land plantings,” said Dennis Williamson, NRCS state soil scientist.“The WSS can help producers maintain profits, while reducing erosion, and improving soil and water quality.”

WSS can also provide landowners and agricultural producers with aerial photos, topography maps, and measuring tools to help them manage resources. Users also may save and print information and maps, free of charge, day or night.

“We will have the capability at the booth to assist producers with WSS and the ‘how-to's’ of the program,” said Williamson.“The biggest link is the soils to the ecological site to the planning aspect of each producer’s ranch.”

Uses of the WSS include building sites, conservation plans, erosion control, farm and ranch appraisals, nutrient management, pipelines, range management, identification of risks and hazards, road building, water conservation, wetlands and wildlife management.

For more information on Web Soil Survey, how NRCS can help you meet your land management goals, and technical and financial assistance programs, visit the NRCS Web site at www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov or contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center, which is listed in phone directories under U.S. Government.