Online soil science training builds career skills

By Peter Kent

Clemson agriculture students are learning about soils without getting their hands dirty. Horticulture, forestry, agricultural mechanization and agricultural education majors are getting hands-on experience using the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Web soil survey.

The soil survey was used in introductory soil science coursework taught by assistant professors Elena Mikhailova and Christopher Post. Students used the online tool to evaluate soil physical properties, septic-system and basement suitability and to evaluate soil chemical properties.

The tool has even led some students to see how the Web soil survey will assist them in their careers. “I plan to open a lawn-maintenance and landscaping business,” said John Hollis.  “I’ll use the Web soil survey to check soil properties and make necessary adjustments to my landscape plans. This will give me an advantage over my competitors in understanding the way water moves into and through soil.”

The Web Soil Survey replaces printed materials and expands public access to the national soils information system.

For more information: or Elena Mikhailova, 864-656-3535,