Phillip R. Owens is an Associate Professor of Pedology/Soil Geomorphology in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. After receiving his B.S. and M.S. at the University of Arkansas, he completed a Ph.D. in soil science from Texas A & M University in 2001. After completing his Ph.D., he worked in the office of U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln member societies as Tri -Societies Congressional Science Fellow and then as Research Soil Scientist with USDA-ARS at Mississippi State University. Dr. Owens research interests include soil and landscape processes, hydropedology and digital soil mapping. He is the past Chair of the Pedology Division of the Soil Science Society of America, Associate Editor of Soil Science Society of America Journal, Co-Chair of New Technologies in Soil Survey Committee, Facilitator of the IUSS Universal Soil Classification System Committee, GlobalSoilMap.net team member and as a member of the National Soil Survey Advisory Board.
For more than 100 years, scientists have created soil maps represented as soil polygons with discrete boundaries between soil mapping units. Polygons of various mapping units almost always represent the taxonomic and morphological heterogeneity and are assigned unique values and ranges of soil properties. With the advent of digital soil mapping software and high quality DEM, Online Soil Survey (SSURGO), geographic information systems (GIS) and powerful geo -referencing tools, soil scientists have the technology to provide new approachs for representation and prediction of soil properties based on soil functional homogeneity rather than the morphological or taxonomic heterogeneity. Using a digital soil mapping process developed at Purdue University, the process recognizes the oversimplification introduced in the representation of soils as discrete polygons and uses landscape attributes to develop terrain relationships between soil and landscape properties to create spatially continuous soil property maps. This presentation will demonstrate digital methods to map soil properties such as plant available water, organic carbon content, texture, and depth of soil to name a few. The process of providing predictions of soil properties can be used both internationally and domestically to provide continuous soil property predictions. Examples of digital soil mapping will be presented illustrating mapping projects to illustrate the potential for management, sampling and precision farming decisions.