Automating Wetland Data Forms
No, we aren’t exactly at the point of sending Roomba-like automatons out to delineate wetlands, spending their days bumping into bog turtles and skunk cabbage as they course correct to produce the ultimate wetland delineation, but automation is coming to the world of wetland determinations.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) have developed Automated Wetland Determination Data Form excel spreadsheets to automatically generate wetland hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soil indicators using user input data. As of this post, only two regions are available, but more are likely on their way. Those two regions are:
Northcentral and Northeast Region
The spreadsheet includes plant information from the USACOE 2016 National Wetland Plant List (NWPL), version 3.3 and includes some upland plant information from the USDA PLANTS Database if those plants are not in the NWPL. The spreadsheet incorporates errata through 2015 for the Hydric Soil Indicators version 7.0. Soil Hub’s FREE Hydric Soil Indicators mobile app also includes this soil information (shameless self-promotion).
After reviewing the spreadsheet this seems like an interesting tool, but with all good things, there are some limitations.
The spreadsheet is currently only available for the above mentioned regions, and is only approved for use in the Detroit District of the USACOE.
There are limitations to its use with hydric soils. For example, the spreadsheet cannot verify indicators A6, S8, S9, F18, TA6. These limitations are mainly driven by the inability to verify a spodic horizon and reaction to alpha-alpha-dipyridyl.
The user needs to follow some entry conventions so that the spreadsheet can analyze the inputs correctly. Therefore, entry errors could cause issues. For example, a plant’s scientific name needs to be spelled correctly and the soil color needs to be entered in the correct format.
The automation of the hydrology indicators seems to be the most lacking of the three indicators, so users will need to spend extra time in this section manually inputting choices.