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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345605

Research Project: Resilient Management Systems and Decision Support Tools to Optimize Agricultural Production and Watershed Responses from Field to National Scale

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Advancement of a soil parameters geodatabase for the modeling assessment of conservation practice outcomes in the United States

item White, Michael
item Arnold, Jeffrey

Submitted to: International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/20/2017
Publication Date: 2/24/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Di Luzio, M., White, M.J., Arnold, J.G., Williams, J.R., Kiniry, J.R. 2017. Advancement of a soil parameters geodatabase for the modeling assessment of conservation practice outcomes in the United States. International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental Research. 4(1):Article 2.

Interpretive Summary: Water quality models are used routinely for determining impacts on land use and management on water supply and quality. Models account for influence of soil characteristics on runoff, ET, plant growth, and transport of sediment and nutrients. Thus, describing the soil with appropriate soil properties is critical for accurate simulations. In this study, a large scale geodatabase of soil model parameters was developed for the United States. A soils geodatabase of the U.S. was developed to provide soils input to three commonly used agricultural management models. A significant number of soil parameters were missing and methods were developed and applied to fill in all missing values. The data can easily be downloaded for any region of the U.S. with appropriate tools and documentation. The geodatabase and associated tools will provide the best soils data available for several commonly used water quality models. This will increase the accuracy of the models and improve our decision making capabilities.

Technical Abstract: US-ModSoilParms-TEMPLE is a database composed of a set of geographic databases functionally storing soil-spatial units and soil hydraulic, physical, and chemical parameters for three agriculture management simulation models, SWAT, APEX, and ALMANAC. This paper introduces the updated US-ModSoilParms- TEMPLE, which covers the entire United States and is organized as a framework of 22 nested and hydrologically-ordered regional geographic databases with internal spatial segmentation drainage-defined at a conveniently manageable tile (Watershed Boundary Dataset’s, WBD, 8-digit Subbasin) level. Spatial features are stored in multiple formats (raster and vector) and resolutions (10-meter and 30-meter), while being in direct relationship with the table of attributes storing the models’ parameters. A significant number of former parameter voids, determined by the local incompleteness of the source datasets, were filled using a methodology leveraging upon the hierarchy of the Soil Taxonomy information and the geographic location of the gaps. The functionality of each geographic database was extended by adding customized tools, which streamline the incorporation into geoprocessing workflows, the aggregation and extraction of data sets, and finally the export to other model support software user environments. These tools are attached and conveniently distributed along with detailed metadata documentation within each of the developed regional geographic databases. The system hosting this framework is developed using a proprietary software format (ESRI® File Geodatabase), however, a companion version of the framework of 8-digit tiles is also developed and provided using openly accessible formats. The experience shared in this paper might help other efforts in developing hydrology-oriented geographical databases.