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Dig Deeper Into Your Soils Through SKSIS

By Allie Noble, AAg, Crops Extension Specialist, Prince Albert

When running into many types of issues in the field it is often important to dig deeper – especially into the soils on the land to see if there is an underlying cause. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the Saskatchewan Soils Information System (SKSIS), a tool created by a collaboration between soil scientists and computer scientists through the University of Saskatchewan. As an agronomist or a producer, this is a free online resource that can help you to better understand the soils that you are working with. It brings decades upon decades of soils surveys information done in Saskatchewan to your fingertips.

This is a resource often used by our Crops Extension Specialists. Anytime a call comes in and we suspect soils may play into the issue, we can easily look up a location through SKSIS with land locations, longitude and latitude coordinates or a variety of other ways. The program allows you to look at Saskatchewan as a whole or go down to a single land location. The site is very user friendly and comes with a user guide to walk you through different information. You can underlie a base map to see the province divided up by roadmaps, soil types or aerial images. You can choose different map themes that allow you to look at specific soil zones, the map unit (describing soil class, parent material, and texture), agricultural capability of the land, soil texture, salinity effect on production and soil pH. There are also other options to break down the soil in the field many ways. If you want to get a better understanding of some of the terms referenced on SKSIS, there is another free resource written by members of the Canadian Society of Soil Science that is available through the University of Saskatchewan website called Digging into Canadian Soils. It provides an A-to-Z introduction to soil science and highlights Canadian soils, breaking it down into different areas including the prairies.

Saskatchewan Soil Map

One thing to note is that although there have been many soils surveys over many decades across the province, not every single inch of land has been surveyed so the exact location you clicked may differ from the actual soil type there, but the site gives an excellent snippet into soils in the region. Overall, SKSIS is a great free and easy to access tool. It doesn’t replace the importance of a soil test, but can be an easy start to understanding what is going on in your region.

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