Have you “dug around” to find out more about the soils that hold the roots and provide nutrients for the plants on your property? If it’s growing there it must be OK, right? Well, mostly. But often we don’t take soil into consideration when planting something new, which may lead to poor results. Learning about your soils provides information to decide what species grow best.
Knowing your soils is critical for other reasons. When locating roads and trails is it important to consider soil types and slope to minimize erosion and maintenance issues. Scheduling a harvest is another time to think about your soils. Some soil types may be accessible even in wet or winter weather, but some soils must be avoided except under dry conditions to prevent excessive damage to your property.
A great source of information on your soils in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Web Soil Survey at www.websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov. There you can enter the address or location of your property and identify the various types of soils you have and those soil properties. This tool can be confusing at first but there is an excellent demonstration at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX_eRTIw1kY.
Print off a soils map and consider keeping this information with your woodland management plan. This information can be useful when making decisions on your property. Another helpful resources is your state or local NRCS office (www.nrcs.usda.gov) or professional forester.
Photo credit: Andrew Koeser, International Society of Arboriculture, bugwood.org.