Meeting Notes July 16th 2020

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    • #4373
      Tom Yates

      Meeting notes: CSSS On-line Soils Teaching Group July 16th, 2020

      Attendees: Tom Yates, Christian von Sperber, Maja Krzic, Mathew Swallow, Georges Ndzana, Fran Walley, Hida Manns, David Burton, Graeme Spiers, Paul Hazlett, Ed Karpuk, Cassandra Gnyra, Chris Jackson, Marla Riekman, Robin Woywitka.
      Started with brief report on meeting of Soils Field Video subgroup, followed by report by Christian on meetings of the subgroup on Soils Video Activities.
      Christian provided advice based on his recent teaching experiences: keep lectures short followed by exercises. This keeps students engaged. Zoom worked well for his teaching. Considering developing simple soil experimental kit to go out to student so they can perform basic soil analysis. Suggested prepared soil pits that student could visit on their own. Wants to develop a soils data set that can be used for student exercises and teach student use of MS Excel. Could use soil profile images to give students practice defining horizons.
      Christian recommended starting a repository of on-line exercises, aligned with the new Canadian Soils Textbook. These could be imbedded in textbook or made available as a supplementary document or a stand-alone resource. Exercises can be theoretical or hands-on (e.g. soil texture by feel). Ideally, theoretical exercises include a dataset that students can work on and improve their math and software (e.g. excel, r, GIS) skills but this is not a must. For organization of who is doing what we have created a google doc, which follows the structure of the new CSSS text book:
      A call will go out to the members to submit exercises for posting to the Google- drive site managed by Dan Pennock. These can be emailed directly to Dan.
      Dan discussed the archived soil profile images and soil order power point presentations available on the google drive. Look for the special features folder that has images with short explanations on specific soil characteristics.
      Next meeting August 13th, 2020 9:00 AM SK time.

      Ed Karpuk has some links to share with the group.
      This is the link for downloading guidebooks for the 2019, 2017, 2014, 2013 and 2011 Alberta Soils Tour. As a bonus there are also links to the programs for Alberta Soil Science Workshops held each year from 2009 to 2020, 2019.
      A second resource that might be of interest for soil science training particularly working with soils data is the link to the AGRASID aka Agricultural Regions of Alberta Soil Inventory Database at There is a viewer which is based on AGRASID which allows analysis of selected soil data –

      For students who would like to get familiar with different soils across our province there is the Alberta Soil Names File (Generation 4) User’s Handbook which lists all confirmed soil series and their basic attributes for each of the Soil Correlation Areas in the province; available for download at$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sag10989/$FILE/SNF_Gen_4_Report_01112017_Finalv2.pdf.
      I find AGRASID plus the Alberta Soil Names File two very useful resources to help identify in advance likely soils to expect when conducting fieldwork in areas of interest within the White Zone or agricultural area of Alberta. Of course there are the detailed soil surveys available at to provide more information. AGRASID is a generalized classification based off of all the soil surveys that have been done mainly for the White Zone
      In the Green Zone or forested area there is no AGRASID coverage and very few soil surveys so the fall back document as far as determining soils to expect would be the Soil Names File.

      Robin Woywitka has also sent some links
      These are zoomable images created with technology developed for the Mars rovers. They are very high resolution images, and you are able to zoom from landscape to sand grain scales on the most spectacular ones. GigaPan is focused mainly on panoramic images, and GigaMacro includes images from landscape to microscopy scales. The GigaPan website is not fully functional anymore, but the GigaMacro viewer has thousands of free images. The focus is mainly geological, but they do occasionally feature soils. Good potential for use in exercises about soil landscapes, parent materials, soil genesis, etc.
      I am sifting through the images for use in my classes, and will share the compilation with the group. But here are main collections I have found useful so far:

      Mid-Atlantic Geo-Image Collection – main source of geo-images on the site. Most of the following links are subsets of their work.
      Canadian Rockies
      Sedimentary Rocks

    • #5556

      Very helpful resources, helped me a lot.

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