On this episode of The Prickly Peak, I thought it would be fun to explore some of the subsurface of our land and also provide a how to tutorial of the Web Soil Survey functionality of the USDA NRCS tool:
So let’s start here at the beginning of what the site will look like when you click on the link above as you will be able to utilize this tool to analyze your land anywhere in the United States, which is the primary demographic of my readers (Come on my international readers! Share and I will investigate looking into doing this for your country too)
The first thing that we want to do is zoom to our AOI, or Area of Interest. On the top navigation bar under the Area of Interest Interactive Map there are two magnifying glasses. You can click the + / – to get to you area of interest or using the crosshair tool click and drag a rectangle around your area of interest. Once you get into the area you are interested, click on the white glove to center your field of view.
The next step is to select your actual area of interest. There are two options of your AOI, a rectangular tool or draw your own. For the rectangular tool you just click and drag. If the triangular button is selected then you will click on your starting point and once you finish with your desired shape, double click. Once you double click, the area of interest will be selected:
At this point we can investigate the tabs at the top now that we are at our area of interest:
Once we click on the Soils Data Explorer, the blue diagonal lines will go away and other lines will appear based on the soils characterizations:
SO now let’s play:
One of our last posts spoke of solar power, this query will show the suitability solar arrays using either a soil based anchor or a ballast anchor system. Let’s click on solar arrays, soil based anchor systems and view rating:
From this, we can see the entirety of the Peak is yellow. For simplicity, this service uses a Green, Yellow, & Red color coding system. Please allow me to preference that red does not automatically mean bad or not possible, just that considerations need to be made and alternative solutions pursued. SO for us, All three soil types we have are yellow for our soil based anchors for solar panels:
Below the map is the reasons why it’s given this rating:
It’s hard to see but the point of the triangle is soil code 300, the bulk of the land is soil code 133 and the southeast section is 199. You can also see the acres in the area of interest of 65.1, which means I overdrew a little bit.
This process can be repeated for copious parameters that I will show maps for, but not the full breakdowns:
Dwellings without basements:
Fire Damage Susceptibility:
Organic Soil Subsidence:
Other Tabs allow us to look and representative soils analyses:
Building and Site Development:
Okay…so what does all of this mean for us?
Most of our land is a sandy loam with very little clay in it. We do have potential for shallow bedrock that can be seen throughout the property with rocky outcroppings. We have a neutral pH soil with low SAR values so when we try to establish a garden, the soils should be able to help support vegetation. We would be equally successful with a basement vs no basement and some instabilities are possible due to the surrounding rolling hills. Therefore we should be good to develop everything that we want to achieve at the peak and can’t wait for the days that we have money saved up again!
Bye All Y’all!