Soil analysis for the community garden

Kevin Svitana, Otterbein University, Westerville, OH


Otterbein is in the process of developing a community garden on its newly opened Equestrian Science facility. This facility was a former industrial manufacturing location. The site was redeveloped through the Ohio Voluntary Action Program, the state's Brownfield redevelopment program. As part of the garden development, Otterbein sampled soils in the proposed garden area to verify that no hazardous constituents are present. This exercise challenges students to develop a map showing the location of the gardens and the analytical results.


Type and level of course
This is a mid-quarter, entry-level GIS assignment. Students should be familiar with the keystroke processes to complete this exercise.

Geoscience background assumed in this assignment
No geoscientific knowledge is required. Students have prepared formatted attribute tables and are familiar with the add X-Y data tool.

GIS/remote sensing skills/background assumed in this assignment
Hand written field GPS measurements provided by another and lab data required to complete the activity are attached. Students are verbally provided interpretations of the analytical results of the soil analysis and GPS notes. The lab data are to be linked to the object (GPS) data. In ARCmap, students analyze the distribution of the analytes using graphical methods (pie charts, bar graphs, etc.)

Software required for this assignment/activity:
ArcMap 9.3.1 and Excel.

Time required for students to complete the assignment:
30-50 minutes


GIS/remote sensing techniques students learn in this assignment
Use a collection of in the GIS coordinates to define the garden boundaries and sample points that represent the analytical results.

Other content/concepts goals for this activity
Producing a GIS-based map that can be uploaded to Google earth for wider distribution.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Connecting site-specific data to point locations, formulating a visually appealing display of chemical data.

Description of the activity/assignment

The attached files are are for the community garden assignment. The files include hand-written field notes and laboratory field notes. Use the Delaware, Ohio county-base map in the Census Data from the Arc GIS files as the base. Create an attribute table that shows the sample locations and the analytical results for the metals. Consider how you need to format the table to connect the boundary points, sample points and a point to represent the composite sample location. The data should be in the format of point objects. Create a new shape file using 'editor' to make a polygon outlining the garden boundary. Incorporate statistical analysis of the lab results for each of the sample locations. Be sure to incorporate pie charts, bar graphs, weighted points, etc. on the map image (only one graphic type is required). Upload the attribute table to the map layer. Create maps that show the location of the samples and the analytical results for the various metals. Save the maps in .kmz formats (using the conversion to KMZ tool) and create Google earth files showing the location of the community garden and the soil samples.Email me the .kmz file, I will grade the file that opens in Google earth.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students should be able to produce a map that is interactive in the Google earth format. The map should be self-explanatory so that those not familiar with chemical analysis of soil can readily interpret the map data.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.

URLs and References

Download teaching materials and tips

  • Activity Description/Assignment: GPS data (a 5894 by 4406 pixel JPEG)
  • Instructors Notes: Analytical data (Acrobat (PDF) 42kB May27 10)
  • Solution Set:

Other Materials

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