Purdue University, USDA launch website to serve as an educational resource in crop, environmental and soil science; site is an interactive map of Indiana showing state landscape, soil survey data previously available in print only

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana , September 14, 2011 (press release) – A website created by Purdue University faculty and students and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will serve as an educational resource in crop, environmental science and soil science classes this fall and help the public better understand soils and landscapes.

The Integrating Spatial Educational Experiences (Isee) website is an interactive map of Indiana that shows the state's landscape and soil survey data. Soils information traditionally has been found in books, but the new website combines the data from all counties in Indiana into an online platform.

"If we stack up all of the soil survey maps for the state it would reach almost 5 feet high," said Darrell Schulze, a Purdue agronomy professor who led the site development team. "Isee is a different way to look at soils and landscapes of Indiana that we really haven't had before and differs considerably from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's online soil survey delivery system, Web Soil Survey."

The website is at http://isee.purdue.edu/

Isee shows how soil properties are distributed over large areas and makes it easier to see patterns in the way soils vary across landscapes and where soils with common characteristics exist. By using information from the website, visitors can make better decisions about the proper uses of land for building, septic systems, gardens and crops, among others, according to Phillip Owens, associate professor of agronomy and Purdue's liaison to the National Cooperative Soil Survey.

"When you use Isee, you're interacting with massive amounts of soils data prepared by Purdue and NRCS soil scientists," said Chris Miller, the assistant professor of library science who helped with Isee's data preparation and organization. "We're delivering rich, useful soils information to people who can now access it through easy-to-use software."

Isee delivers maps from various sources using the Google Earth Web browser plug-in.

Ronald Glotzbach, associate professor of computer graphics technology, and graduate student Laura Kocur designed the site with input from the faculty, students and staff in the Department of Agronomy, Purdue Libraries and the NRCS in Indianapolis.

The USDA and Higher Education Challenge Grant Program funded the project. Purdue Libraries and the Department of Computer Graphics Technology also provided support.

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