Smartphone App Delivers Soil Data In The Field

The University of California-Davis Soil Resource Laboratory has developed a smartphone application that performs location-based queries from GPS–enabled cell phones. Although soil information is on the Internet, it may not be convenient to bring a computer out to the field. Using its online soil survey, the SoilWeb application allows users to identify soils and access soil survey data from any place in the U.S. that has cell phone coverage in the 48 contiguous states.


“The intent was to enable more people to access, and more importantly, apply soil survey information in a manner that best accommodates how soil surveys are used – in the field,” said Anthony O’Geen, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension soil resources specialist.

UC Davis Ph.D. candidate Dylan Beaudette and his advisor O’Geen developed SoilWeb to take advantage of the GPS or cell tower triangulation capabilities of modern smartphones.

The spatial queries are sent to the UC Davis Soil Resource Laboratory’s online interface to soil survey information. Query results are presented as a series of soil profile sketches, depicting soil horizons, series names, landscape position and taxonomic classification.

Clicking on a soil name provides the user with information such as depth profiles of soil chemical and physical properties, land classification indices, land-use interpretations and links to a variety of other environmental databases.

They designed SoilWeb for a wide range of users, from scientists to home gardeners. The application is available for free for iPhone and Android OS platforms.