Introduction to County Soil Surveys
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
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Students use the Natural Resources Conservation Service's county-level soil survey to answer a series of questions about the soils their campus has been built on.
The activity is used in an undergraduate introductory physical geography course that includes a 2-hour laboratory session that meets once per week. The focus of the course is landforms and soils. The course is predominantly composed of non-majors.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
This exercise is the second part of a three-part series of soils exercises.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Navigate a county soil survey
Determine properties of soils
Link soil properties to geomorphic processes
Understand how soil properties are related to land use suitability
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description of the activity/assignment
Students use the soil survey to familiarize themselves with physical geography of the county and the basic soil properties of the soils their campus is built on. Students navigate all the major parts of the table including the introductory narrative, soil series descriptions, tables, and maps. This exercise is used to prepare students for a subsequent exercise describing the soils on campus by collecting a bucket auger profile.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students complete the exercise during a 2-hour laboratory session. Students are expected to work independently or in pairs. Upon completion of the laboratory exercise, students must complete an online quiz that consists of the same questions in the exercise before the next lab meeting. The online quiz is within the Desire 2 Learn (D2L) online learning platform, so answers are automatically graded and imported into the student's grade book.
More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
Activity Description/Assignment:Introduction to County Soil Surveys exercise (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 30kB Nov20 14)
This laboratory exercise was developed using the Winnebago County soil survey for the state of Wisconsin. Information needed to answer some of the questions included in this exercise may not be included in the soil survey for your particular county. PDF versions of all county-level soil surveys are available at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/soilsurvey/soils/survey/state/
However, PDF versions typically do not include the maps section. Also available is a complementary lab using the Web Soil Survey.
PDF versions of county soil surveys are available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/soilsurvey/soils/survey/state/