Soil Survey Work in Inkster

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency in the United States Department of Agriculture, in concert with 24 municipalities in Metropolitan Wayne County are in the process of updating the 1977 Soil Survey of Wayne County Area, Michigan.

When the soil resources were being mapped during the 1971 to 1973 field seasons, it was decided to omit areas where pavement, houses and large buildings dominated the landscape. This amounted to about 164,000 acres. Since that decision we nationally have begun to investigate the nature of all soils regardless of location. As a result, all towns and cities in Michigan now have soil resource maps except for most of Metropolitan Wayne County. 
Soil Survey Map
Within the next few weeks, soil scientists from NRCS will begin mapping the soil resources of this area through on-site analysis of the soil’s sand, silt, clay and organic matter contents, soil color, soil pH, and percent coarse fragments. Some samples will be collected for lab analysis to better determine soil taxonomy. It will take about 2 and one half years to complete the study. The resulting maps will have tied to them the geology of the area, soil drainage characteristics, general nutrient levels and new urban interpretations.

Soil scientists will use a 3 inch diameter bucket auger to examine soil layers to a depth of 60 to 80 inches. The small diameter holes will be filled in with the same material that was examined. GPS coordinates will be tied to each observation. Many hundreds of soil observations will be needed to separate one soil type from another. Advanced GIS mapping techniques using LiDAR will be employed in this effort. Work will begin in northwest Detroit and the Grosse Pointe cities’ area.

You can get an idea of what to expect as a product by visiting our online service called the Web Soil Survey online. You will be able to view areas of Wayne County that were previously mapped.

It is hoped that through the cooperative efforts of Wayne County, City Officials and NRCS that citizens will benefit having a 21st. century knowledge of the nature of their soils and begin incorporating this knowledge into considerations made for area revitalization, tree plantings, urban food plots, open spaces, school and university environmental studies and other land use planning proposals.

William L. Bowman
NRCS Michigan State Soil Scientist
United States Department of Agriculture