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Faculty & Staff Soil Scientists
Frederick W. Madison
Professor, Emeritus
B.A. Geology, 1961
M.S. Soil Science, 1963
Ph.D. Soil Science, 1972, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1525 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706
(office) 608.263.4004 - (fax) 608.265.2595

Degradation of groundwater by contaminants resulting from a variety of land-use activities is an issue of concern, particularly in rural areas. The soil offers important protection for the groundwater resource because of its ability to attenuate land-applied contaminants. Many of my Extension and research activities focus on the interactions between potential soil pollutants and ground and surface water.

My appointment is split between the Department of Soil Science and the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. At the Survey, my attention is directed toward interpreting soils information, primarily soil survey reports for use by local officials. For example, maps of various counties at a scale of 1:100000 have been produced to show the attenuation potential of soils. Interpretive materials have been developed and a good deal of time and effort is devoted to working with local officials to help them understand the role that soils can play in protecting groundwater, the nature and distribution with soils in their particular area and the use of soils information in land-use decision making.

My research is closely related to my Extension work, and has been directed mainly toward assessing the impacts of animal waste and its management on surface and groundwater. Work on barnyard/feedlot areas and on earthen waste storage facilities has led to the development of several, widely used Best Management Practices.

In addition, mine process wastes and their environmental impacts have been evaluated at several different in-state locations. Currently, my research focuses on the examination of soil moisture regimes and associated soil morphological characteristics; the use of ground- penetrating radar to identify lamellae and/or banding in coarse-textured soils; and on the nature, characteristics and functions of Histosols. I also spend time on soil survey, mapping, and classification here and abroad.

Much of my work is interdisciplinary and requires coordination with colleagues, other University departments, state and federal agencies, and local units of government. It continues to be an important challenge to translate research results into usable information for a variety of people with different interests and responsibilities.


Madison, F.W. 1986. Soil and water conservation programs in the Gambia. UW-Madison, International Agricultural Programs and the Republic of The Gambia, Ministry of Agriculture. Report No. 3. 9 p.

Madison, F.W. 1986. Soils of Rock County and their ability to attenuate pollutants. Plate no. 1. In Groundwater protection principles and alternative for Rock County, Wisconsin. Special Report No. 8. 73 p.

Balogh, J.I., and F.W. Madison. 1985. Runoff treatment from a turkey production facility. Trans. of the ASAE 28:1476-1481.

McSweeney, K., and F.W. Madison. 1985. Soil development in mine process wastes. Proc. 7th Int. Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology, July 1985, Paris, France.

Persson, L.A., J.O. Peterson, and F.W. Madison. 1983. Evaluation of sediment and phosphorus management practices in the White Clay Lake Watershed. Water Resour. Bull. 19:753-762.

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