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News Release

NRCS, UC Davis launch improved SoilWeb smartphone app



PORTLAND, Ore. (July 8, 2019) - Wondering about the best place to build a pond, where to dig post holes, or the crop production capability of your land? Now there’s an app for that!

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the University of California at Davis Soil Resource Laboratory have launched the SoilWeb app version 2.0 for Android and iOS devices. SoilWeb delivers GPS-based soil information for the exact soil the user is standing on, allowing users to access over 120 years of soils data from the world’s largest soils database.

SoilWeb is available as a free download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

“SoilWeb reached a new milestone this year when it was integrated with Google Maps and designed to scale across any device, desktop, tablet or smart phone,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “SoilWeb app is a portable interface to authoritative digital soil survey data from NRCS, giving users access to practical detailed scientific soil information on the go.”

Newest tool in the shed

The app provides gardeners, landscapers and realtors with information relating to soil types and how to optimally use the soil. Although soil survey information can be used for general farm, local, and wider area planning, a professional onsite evaluation may be needed to supplement this information in some cases.

SoilWeb provides users with information relating to soil types that are associated with their location. The images are then linked to information about the different types of soil profiles, soil taxonomy, land classification, hydraulic and erosion ratings and soil suitability ratings.

SoilWeb is a great way to understand the landscape you live in,” said Anthony O’Geen, UC Davis Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. “Producing food, constructing structures and maintaining landscapes all depend on this little understood, but critical outermost layer of the earth’s crust, the soil.”

Deep knowledge

All the soil information in SoilWeb was collected from the National Cooperative Soil Survey, organized by NRCS, and accesses soil survey information the agency has been collecting since the 1890s. The resulting database, the largest such in the world, makes it possible for soil scientists to generate specialized maps using computer-aided techniques.

O’Geen developed SoilWeb with NRCS Soil Scientist Dylan Beaudette, in 2010 when Beaudette was a Ph.D. student at UC Davis. The app was a popular download, but by 2017 was no longer in compliance with requirements set by Apple and Google. Frequent users of SoilWeb had to rely on the web-based version from 2017 to June 2019.

Any users with the older version on their phone can do a simple update to access the newest version. The app is a product of a 14-year partnership between NRCS and UC Davis College of Land, Air and Water Resources.