Sampling and spatial analysis techniques for quantifying soil map unit composition

Richard B. Ferguson, Gary W. Hergert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


In the United States, the county soil survey is currently the most widely available spatial data resource for production agriculture. Most counties with significant agriculture are mapped with a modem survey. However, current surveys are often inadequate for applications of precision agriculture requiring differential management within fields or as sources of input data for non-point source pollutant models of the vadose zone. Current county surveys are mapped at resolutions which are too coarse for site-specific management applications, and contain little or no information regarding the variability of map unit composition, primarily because of the expense associated with sample collection. Soil survey has traditionally used aerial photographs, transect sampling, and classical statistical analysis combined with qualitative classification by professional soil surveyors to define soil map units. Recent advances in the collection and analysis of spatial soils information is likely to significantly change soil survey methodology. Future soil surveys will incorporate various remote-sensing technologies (aircraft and satellite-based optical platforms, electromagnetic induction, ground-penetrating radar and real-time contact sensors), will be digitally based, mapped at finer scales, and contain quantitative descriptions of map unit composition and variability. Pedotransfer functions and geostatistical analysis techniques will be used to provide more accurate estimates of soil qualities at unsampled points. Site-specific management applications will use this type of soil survey, along with digital orthophotographs and digital elevation models, as a base upon which more detailed, localized spatial information derived from crop yield maps and other producer-generated layers of information can be overlaid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAssessment of Non-Point Source Pollution in the Vadose Zone, 1999
EditorsDennis L. Corwin, Keith Loague, Timothy R. Ellsworth
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781118664698
ISBN (Print)9780875900919
StatePublished - 1998

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
ISSN (Print)0065-8448
ISSN (Electronic)2328-8779

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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