By Andy Gallagher
Soil Scientist, Red Hill Soils
Oregon is synonymous with quality wine. Winegrowers with a goal of top-quality
in the vineyard are using more and more intensive management. They are
growing ever thirsty for better soil information. There is however an
information gap. Existing soil survey maps were intended for general planning
and a broad audience and are limiting for winegrowers' special needs.
WineSoil is a precision soil survey service designed specifically
to provide "real-scale" soil maps for Oregon winegrowers.
This unique approach combines new generations soil survey techniques with
winegrower knowledge to provide customized soil data and interpretations.
Soil information is integrated into your overall winegrowing techniques
What's the difference? The traditional soil survey provides generalized
soil information garnered from a broad geographic region. This information
is idealized and is supported by a very limited amount of known and real
The delineations on the soil survey map often contain significant "inclusions"
of contrasting soils that manage differently than the soil mapped.
With the typical 1:20,000 scale soil survey map, the smallest area
that can be shown is about 4 acres, and most delineations are considerably
larger. One of the first steps in managing the soil variability that
can affect the quality of winegrapes is to have a soil map at a level
of detail that matches your management capabilities. A precision soil
survey has the flexibility to show you more important details.
The practical side of soil mapping an entire county is that the number
of observations had to be limited. One boring per ten to twenty acres
was a typical and practical sample density used in mapping Willamette
Valley cropland. Sampling intensity varies with terrain, soil complexity
and land use. It was deemed impractical the past to include specific
point soil data in the county soil survey report.
With WineSoil precision soil survey, a sample density of one or
more soil borings per acre is common. Point specific data are included
in the WineSoilPrecision Soil Survey. Sample points are georeference
using differentially corrected GPS. Soil data can be delivered to you
in a variety of formats including on that is ready to load into a geographic
information system (GIS). Soil interpretations are current and customized.
Soil surveys contain valuable information, and if you know how to extract
that information, they are good planning tools and a good starting point.
But many soil surveys in Oregon are over 25-years old and the interpretations,
classification and maps are out-of-date. For instance the 1974 Yam hill
County Survey does not have interpretations for winegrapes.
WineSoil customizes sampling, data and interpretations to meet your
management goals. The fist step in the WineSoil Service is onsite soil
consultation. This introduces you to precision mapping and incorporates
your knowledge as a winegrower into the soil survey process. The soil-mapping
job is customized to your vineyard and management goals.