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UCCE Research and Workshops in San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz Counties
Rounding up cattle
by Marc Horney
on September 18, 2020 at 5:52 AM
Hi Devii! Nice article. I think it would have been helpful to have explained how exactly the NRCS Soil Survey defines "Unfavorable," "Normal," and "Favorable" growing season years. The most detailed written description I have found so far was from the Soil Survey Manual 2017; Chapter 7 – NRCS – USDA (downloadable as PDF from the web). That states, “Information on forest growth or range production and the composition of a vegetative plant community also is commonly derived from observations made by others, but it can be supplemented by information recorded by the soil scientist.” I interpret that as meaning, the range productivity values for particular soil map units are, at best, a SWAG. I still use them myself, where I really don't know any better, but I always prefer actual results from years of continuous monitoring, which, of course, is exceedingly rare. And I'm sure NRCS staff would be interested in that information too, although I do not think they presently have a method for updating the soil survey data elements. Good job on testing this information source! If you can collect 10 years of similar annual data from 15 examples of the same map unit scattered across its range of distribution in the soil survey, you will have a very interesting and useful dataset! :)
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