Yesterday was another one of those bone chilling days that made me want to stay indoors. Which I did after I knocked the ice out of all the waterers and fed all the animals and mucked out the coop and the four chicken tractor/bachelor pens. Since the ground was pretty well frozen, digging soil samples was sort of out of the question. However, to send a soil sample into the dirt nerds at Va Tech, I am required to label each sample with the specific soil type. An address isn’t good enough anymore. So I took advantage of an indoor day to find out about the dirt under my feet.
Enter the web soil survey. It only runs on Internet Explorer, which is annoying, but once I figured out how to make Internet Explorer work, I found some really cool information about my farm. I could draw lines around each pasture and it would tell me the exact acreage in each one. Up to now, I’d been guessing as my plat is a little vague on certain measurements. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the survey also told me what kind of soil I have. As it turns out, by pure dumb luck, Apriori Farm is 80% Prime Farm Land. The other 20% is “Farm Land of Statewide Importance.” The only difference between the two soils, is the slope of the land. The 20% is a little more hilly. Prime farm land. Didn’t know that when we bought the place. We just knew the grass looked good, the trees grew tall and the farm wasn’t all hills. Prime farm land. Outstanding! Michael actually wasn’t that surprised. He said he’s dug enough post holes to know we’ve got some really nice dirt. Sandy loam down to at least 4 feet. Well drained and well . . . prime.
Now when I think about prime farm land, I envision pictures of the deep black dirt in Kansas or Iowa. I think of cutaways done on the root structure of corn grown in that soil. I don’t think of Virginia’s red earth. I mean, Virginia exports her red clay all over the world to make world class tennis courts. And for sure, there is a clay element in my dirt, but the clay is nicely tempered with sand. I live on Saylers Creek Road, but the church across the street is called Sandy Creek Baptist. Coincidence? I think not.
There’s a lot of information about my soils: stuff like yields of corn, wheat, barley and soybean I could expect on irrigated and non-irrigated fields, how tall cash crop trees would get, and pH tendencies. So much more. If you’ve got a couple of hours to dawdle on the web, you should check it out and see what potential the soil beneath your feet may hold. websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov