Soil survey

Soil survey

Soil survey, or soil mapping, is the process of classifying soil types and other soil properties in a given area and geo-encoding such information. It applies the principles of soil science, and draws heavily from geomorphology, theories of soil formation, physical geography, and analysis of vegetation and land use patterns. Primary data for the soil survey are acquired by field sampling, supported by remote sensing, (principally aerial photography).

The term "soil survey" may also be used as a noun to describe the published results. In the United States, these surveys have been published in book form for individual counties by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. The information is used by farmers and ranchers to help determine whether a particular soil type is suited for crops or livestock and what type of management might be required. An architect or engineer might use the engineering properties of a soil to determine whether or not it was suitable for a certain type of construction.

Typical information in a published county soil survey includes the following:
*a brief overview of the county's geography
*a general soil map with a brief description of each of the major soil types found in the county along with their characteristics
*detailed aerial photographs with specific soil types outlined and indexed
*photographs of some of the typical soils found in the area
*tables containing general information about the various soils such as total area, comparisons of production of typical crops and common range plants. They also include extensive interpretations for Land use planning such as limitations for dwellings with and without basements, shallow excavations, small commercial buildings, septic tank adsorptions, suitability for development, construction, and water management.
*tables containing specific physical, chemical, and engineering properties such as soil depth, soil texture, particle size and distribution, plasticity, permeability, available water capacity, shrink-swell potential, corrosion properties, and erodibility.

In recent years, much of this information has been published on the Internet. Currently, soils data can be viewed at a free website hosted by the NRCS at: After clicking the "Start WSS" button, First, click the "Address" tab and type in your home address and hit the "view" button, go to the interactive map and hit one of the "AOI" buttons and put a box around the area you are interested in and then click the "Soil Map" tab on the left. A soil map of your selected area will come up as well as a list of the soil series and their descriptions. Clicking the "Layers" tab will allow you to select the data you would like displayed on the interactive map.

Soil survey information can be added most easily to a geographic information system (GIS) using the [ Soil Data Viewer).


*Soil Survey of Lubbock County, Texas published by the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service in cooperation with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, 1979.

See also

*FAO soil classification
*USDA soil taxonomy

External links

* [ A Compendium of On-Line Soil Survey Information]
* [ NRCS Web Soil Survey] Inventory of the soil resource across the U.S.
* [ NRCS Soil Data Mart]
* [ NRCS Helping People Understand Soils]
* [ California Online Soil Survey]
* [ Texas Soil Surveys] , hosted by the [ Portal to Texas History]
* Soil Maps of the world [ European Digital Archive on the Soil Maps of the world]
* [ Historical Soil Surveys of South Carolina] at the University of South Carolina Library's Digital Collections Page.

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