Using Web Soil Survey To Identify Disposal Sites Back »

This article was written by Jeppe Kjaersgaard, Assistant Professor SD Water Resources Institute / Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering , SDSU.


Disposal of livestock lost in South Dakota’s recent blizzard continues, and where to bury the carcasses is a question producers are asking. The NRCS online Web Soil Survey can be used to assist with selecting suitable burial sites for the disposal of animal carcasses. The soils in the NRCS Web Soil Survey have been classified according to their suitability as disposal sites for large animal carcasses. The NRCS has produced a User Guide to help navigate the Web Soil Survey for this purpose as well as an example of the resulting report.

In the Web Soil Survey, soils are placed into interpretive rating classes per their rating indices. These are: Not limited (rating index <= 0.10); Somewhat limited (rating index > 0.10 and < 0.98); or very limited (rating index >= 0.98) and Not rated:

  • Not Limited - Soils are expected to be suitable for burial. These soils are preferred areas for locating burial trenches.
  • Somewhat Limited - Soils may be used for burial, as long as limitations shown are addressed. Soils in this category may have slight to moderate limitations. Care should be taken in evaluating a potential burial site on these soils.
  • Very Limited - Soils are generally not suited for burial trenches without overcoming major limitations. These locations are not recommended for burial. Alternative methods of disposal will normally be required if these are the only available soils.
  • Not Rated - Areas labeled Not Rated have characteristics that show extreme variability from one location to another. Often these areas are urban land complexes or miscellaneous areas. An on-site investigation is required to determine soil conditions present at the site.

The interpretative rating is based on soils in their natural condition and does not consider present land use. A catastrophic mortality burial site should never be selected without a site visit to verify assumptions about the location.

Note: Guides courtesy of Deanna Peterson and Gerald Jasmer, SD NRCS.

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