Click before you dig: website created to display soil information of every parcel of land in Saskatchewan

For the longest time, if you wanted to look at a soil survey map of any piece of land in Saskatchewan, you’d have to get an actual map of it or a survey book.

However, accessibility has been made easier thanks to the development of a website called; the full name of the acronym is Saskatchewan Soil Information System.

Soil Scientist and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, Angela Bedard-Hahn, says the website has all the historical soil survey information for every piece of land in the province.

She says it was made to reflect how people are interacting with information today.

The website has a 12-page user manual to show you how to use it properly. While you can use it as a guest, a “create an account” option is available.

She says a companion tool for the website is being developed that will allow the user to get down to a quarter section of land.

She has an appreciation of the work involved in creating a soil survey map.

“A lot of the second-half of the 20th century there were soil surveyors all over the Prairies that were trying to capture all of this detail, and we were at a genuine risk for a while of some of that information just being lost due to inaccessibility ,” Bedard-Hahn said. “This was really an opportunity for us to capture all of that work because these maps really represent not just individual samples, but knowledge that’s gained from years and years spent in the field, digging holes, and really trying to understand how those soils formed, and how and why they function the way they do at a particular location in the landscape.”

For farmers wanting to know more about their land, or anyone looking to buy a quarter-section, Bedard-Hahn says the website is a great resource.

“It’s a great way to get a bit of a sneak preview of what you’re looking at,” she said. “It’ll tell you what you’re looking at without you necessarily going out and sticking a shovel in the ground yourself, it gives you a good start.”

She doesn’t know the exact number of people using it, but it is being used by students and those in the agronomy community.

The Saskatchewan Soil Information System is based on historical soil survey information from the Canadian Soil Information Service.

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