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New Webster County soil survey unveiled to public

By Staff | Mar 27, 2009

Chris Tebold, of Gowrie, foreground, looks at the DVD version of the new soil survey; while next to him is Mike Peterson, of Callender, who looks through the traditional notebook version. Tebold uses the survey to determine drainage patterns, while Pederson uses the survey to plan production, based on the capabilities of existing soil types.

After 35 years, Webster County has updated its soil survey, which includes making an interactive CD available for county residents to use.

The CD and the traditional 428-page notebook of the new soil survey are available for free, while supplies last, at the Webster County Extension office.

Five years ago, said Jim Patton, director of Webster County Extension, the Webster County Supervisors and the county assessor agreed to invest $180,000 to update and enhance the soil survey to include global positioning satellites and global informational systems. Iowa Soil Scientists, Webster County Natural Resources Conservation District, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Iowa State University Extension are partners in publishing and distributing the soil survey.

The soil survey is an inventory of the county’s soil resources. Features of the survey include topography, soil types, corn suitability ratings, soil fertility guides, soil drainage and numerous other tables and guides for farmers, realtors, homeowners and contractors to use.

Robin Wisner, of Fort Dodge, was the project leader in the field. He said the soil mapping “is accurate within an acre. The survey also includes 20 years of rainfall data for the county. The survey results are useful for a variety of non-traditional inquiries such as placing livestock facilities or digging basements.

Above is a sample of how the various soil types in any given section in the county are depicted and labeled. The survey also describes each of the 5,000 soil types in Webster County, giving characteristics of each type and its capability of producing grain and forages.

The topographical overlays will assist tiling contractors with mapping new lines.

He said he and a team of researchers walked fields across the county spot checking the old survey for accuracy, while drilling scores of 80-inch deep soil borings.

As a result, the new survey can map fields by soil types, a capability the former survey could not do.

Chris Tevold, of Gowrie, and Mike Peterson, of Callender, attended the March 9 meeting in Fort Dodge.

Tevold took a CD version of the survey home, saying he uses the information for determining drainage patterns.

Jim Patton, director of Webster County Extension, emcees a March 9 informational meeting introducing area residents to the new Webster County soil survey. Others who worked on the survey also spoke at the gathering.

Peterson took a CD for himself and a notebook for his father. He uses the survey for crop production research.

“Sometimes you get a field where you notice that soybeans just struggle to get out of the ground,” Peterson said. “This will tell you why. There’s a lot of good information on these.”

The Webster County Assessor is using the new soil survey and CSR’s to help determine property tax assessments.

During public meetings held since March 2, more than 125 people have reviewed the survey and have taken copies of the notebook or DVD. The DVD has a self-teaching tutorial for using the DVD, including where to find information, how to locate specific real estate and what information can be useful.

The new soil survey is enhanced to include properties in Fort Dodge and other non-agriculture areas.

“This soil survey also assists landowners that are selling land or renting farms,” Extension’s Patton said. “It will also be a great tool as we use less tillage, less fertilizer and other practices to save our soil and protect our water sources.”

Patton said to date, about 125 people have sat in the informational meetings. He said he would schedule additional meetings around the county after the 2009 crop gets into the ground.

You can contact Larry Kershner by e-mail at editor@farm-news.com or call (515) 573-2141.

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