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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 17 No. 3, p. 285-287
    Received: Dec 15, 1952

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Using Soil Survey Information for Farm Planning1

  1. R. D. Hockensmith2



During the first five months of 1952, the views of 79 farm-planning technicians representing various sections of the country were obtained on the kind of information needed and the manner in which it could best be used in farm planning. Among the major preferences frequently expressed were: Maps of suitable scale, usually 8 inches to the mile for farms and 2 inches to the mile for range land (a 4-inch field sheet enlarged to 8 inches is satisfactory for farms); precise information on the soil features significant in planning the farm; adequate interpretation in terms of suitability of land for cultivation, the practices and treatments needed, and potential responses to management; and specific information on such items as adapted crops, forage plants, or trees, suitability for irrigation or drainage, suitability for conservation structures, and susceptibility to erosion.

Maps to meet these needs should show significant variation in internal soil features, slope, degree of erosion, and such factors as stoniness, salinity, overflow hazards, or any others that affect potential use of the land or the practices needed for its conservation and improvement. The farm-planning technician wants specific information on these items, and accurate descriptions for his own use as he works with the farmer. The map that the farmer usually receives, however, shows not only these details, but a grouping of the closely similar mapping units into land-capability units. The units are further grouped into subclasses and into the eight land-capability classes. In some places the map received by the farmer shows land-capability units but not the detailed mapping symbols.

Technical guides for soil and water conservation planning are being organized by land-capability units, which provide a convenient interpretation of the soil-survey information. Part of the technical-guide material for each unit is also prepared in form that is suitable for distribution to the farmer who has that unit on his farm. The land-capability map of a farm and the appropriate guide sheets together make up a conservation guide for that farm. With the conservation guide as a foundation, and with job sheets for specific practices as the need arises, farmers are encouraged to work out basic conservation plans with their neighbors over a period of time that can vary from a few days to several years. The ideal is to guide them toward becoming conservation farmers who understand the particular capabilities and needs of their land and who apply and believe in the practices that will preserve their soils and keep them productive.

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