211-3 The Challenge of Implementing Fundamental Changes to Soil Taxonomy.

See more from this Division: SSSA Division: Pedology
See more from this Session: Fundamental Changes in Soil Taxonomy

Tuesday, November 8, 2016: 8:45 AM
Phoenix Convention Center North, Room 227 B

Kenneth Scheffe1, Curtis Monger2, Shawn J. Mcvey2 and David Lindbo3, (1)National Soil Survey Center, National Soil Survey Center, Lincoln, NE
(2)National Soil Survey Center, USDA-NRCS, Lincoln, NE
(3)Soil Science Division, USDA-NRCS, Washington, DC
Soil Taxonomy, A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys has been in use in the United States since 1975. Soil Taxonomy itself evolved from earlier soil classification systems, including its predecessor the Seventh Approximation, and was expanded upon innumerable times.  Soil properties resulting from pedogenic processes are integrated as taxa throughout the classification system.  The foundation set of diagnostic properties at the order and suborder levels have remained relatively unchanged as the system grew. Additions of new taxa crystalized upon that original foundation and, in doing so, added rigidity to the core foundation concepts upon which Soil Taxonomy is organized. In an evolving science, rigidity is not a desired characteristic and the soil classification system needs to grow and adapt as knowledge of new soils is gained and the relationships of pedogenic processes are better understood. 

The potential workload to implement changes resulting from fundamental changes in Soil Taxonomy is great. However, the potential workload should not preclude efforts to improve the classification system. Conversely, the need for flexibility in order to remain viable outweighs the workload issue.  A staged approach is underway to evaluate the fundamental changes needed to better align taxonomic classes across all levels.  The approach used is to avoid changing the original concepts of existing soil series.

Proactive communication of proposed changes with practioneers using Soil Taxonomy and the inclusion of expert users with specialized knowledge and skills is essential. Equally important is the communication with users whose work will be affected the greatest by changes.  The success of this effort to restructure the fundamental core concepts of Soil Taxonomy requires commitment by organizations and their leadership to implement approved changes into technical documents and data systems. Evaluation of Soil Taxonomy and implementation of needed fundamental changes in its structure is essential to keep it flexible and viable in the future for application in the U.S. and around the world.

See more from this Division: SSSA Division: Pedology
See more from this Session: Fundamental Changes in Soil Taxonomy