USDA Web Soil Survey

During the process of preparing VIN11100 for this fall, I remembered the importance of the USDA Web Soil Survey, so I thought I’d share. Knowing soil maps is critical in planning, planting, and managing a vineyard. Instead of looking up the county maps in your local extension office, you can log on to this website and look up the site in no time.

So, how do we use the soil survey to determine whether the soil at a site would be appropriate for grapevine growth? First, you’ll need to find your site on the map – whether by entering the address, the coordinates, or just zooming in to your region. Then, once your field/site is lined up, you use the “AOI” button to create an “Area of Interest” around the area in which you want to plant your vines. You’ll end up with a site like this:

USDA Web Soil Survey AOI

In this example, we are going to pretend that there are no buildings on the KSUA campus and that we will plant a vineyard on this site. Click on the “Soil Map” tab to see what type of soil is prevalent in the area in which you plan to plant (in our example – campus):

USDA Soil Map

Now we know that on this site, the main soil type is Conneaut silt loam (“CtA” is the symbol on the map), with 0-2 percent slopes. Is this a potentially good site for growing grapes? If we click on the “Map Legend,” we can find some more detail on the soil types in the are of interest.

USDA Web Soil Survey Map Legend

And the summary will look something like this: USDA Web soil survey pdf.

Some key words that stand out in the report are: “Drainage class: Somewhat poorly drained,” which means that this site needs drainage if we still think that we want to plant a vineyard here. Thus, the next step would be to contact the Soil and Water Conservation District to help lay out a plan for tiling the vineyard site for drainage. As we all know, grapevines do not thrive in wet soils, so proper and adequate drainage is critical prior to planting any vines.



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