Several hundred people filled the Capitol Rotunda in Madison on May 16 to celebrate the completion of soil mapping in Wisconsin. In a ceremony filled with music, food, information booths, and presentations from various dignitaries, a proclamation was read by Rod Nilsestuen, Secretary of the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection declaring 2006 as the “Year of Soil” in Wisconsin.
Ceremony events included third and fourth grade students from Antigo Elementary School singing a special musical tribute to the state soil – the Antigo Silt Loam; Bruce Knight, Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) presenting the 2006 Excellence in Conservation National Award to Paul Daigle, Marathon County; and Fred Halfen, President, WI Land Information Association paying tribute to the cooperative funding support over the past six years from several state agencies and the state’s Land Information Program. Pat Levenworth, State Conservationist for NRCS, hosted the event.
The purpose of the gathering was to recognize the completion of soil survey mapping in the state. In early 1999, the NRCS, the WI Land Information Board, and several state agencies came to agreement on a cooperative funding plan and work schedule to complete digital soils mapping statewide within six years. At that time only 20 counties had digital soil surveys meeting NRCS standards. Today, all 72 counties have surveys meeting those standards. Since the project began in 1999, the NRCS has mapped ten northwestern counties that previously had never been mapped, and has digitized and certified 42 additional counties. Wisconsin is one of ten states with complete coverage of NRCS certified soil surveys.
In addition to completing soil surveys, NRCS has been very active in getting this information accessible via the Web. All of Wisconsin’s mapping may be viewed through the NRCS Web Soil Survey at: http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/.