How to use a Published Soil Survey

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1 Soil Surveys-What are they?!? Natural Resources Conservation Service Helping People Help the Land

2 How to use a Published Soil Survey Each published soil survey is a comprehensive report on the soil resources of a given county, or parish. It is a detailed report compiled by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in cooperation with Agricultural Experiment Stations, State Soil and Water Conservation Committees, and local soil and water conservation districts.

3 What is a published soil survey? A published soil survey is a detailed report which contains information on all the soils of a county or parish. The publication has maps with soil boundaries and aerial photos and narrative descriptions and tables explaining specific soil properties and features. Published soil surveys are used by farmers, real estate agents, city personnel, land use planners, engineers and others who desire information about the soil resource. Soil Surveys are in printed books (hard copy format) or on CDs with digital soils data. The digital soils data can be used in GIS (Geographic Information Systems).

4 Web Soil Survey NRCS now has soil survey data available online Users from across the U.S. can quickly access soils data Visit

5 The major parts of a soil survey publication... Index to map units Summary of tables Foreword General soil map units Detailed soil map units Prime farmland Use and management of soils Soil properties Classification of soils Formation of the soils References Glossary Tables

6 Using the soil survey Obtain a soil survey publication from the NRCS office or your local Soil and Water Conservation District office. Open the soil survey to Index To Map Sheets in the middle of the publication. It is located opposite the General Soil Map. In the hard copy books, these maps are large fold out sheets. Locate your site or property on the parish map of the Index To Map Sheets.

7 Using the soil survey (Continued) Your land or site should be within one of the small rectangles on the map that has a number say 22 or 40. That number is very important--it corresponds to the number on the aerial maps located in the second half of the publication. Your number should be circled at the top of the aerial photograph, right above the north arrow. View the aerial map closely Locate landmarks such as roads or streams.

8 Using the soil survey (Continued)... Notice that the aerial photograph has many lines drawn on it. Those lines separate different soil types or areas with different soil characteristics. Your tract or site should be located within one of those lines. After you locate your tract of land, look for the small letters or number imprinted on the map near your tract, but within the delineation lines such as ScC, or KnC, or LaC. Those letters or numbers designate a map unit. Remember that map unit. Map unit symbols may consist of numbers or letters, or a combination of both. Turn to the Index to Map Units (located at the front) which lists the map units by symbol and name and shows the page where each map unit is described. Or find the Table of Contents and find your Map Unit there.

9 Using the soil survey... After you locate the Index to Map Units and find the corresponding page number for your map unit or the soil of your area, go to that page in the soil survey report. Here, you ll find a detailed description of your map unit or soil.

10 Using the soil survey... Glossary Aeration, soil. The exchange of air in soil with air from the atmosphere... If you find a term or soil description in the detailed information sheet on your soil and want to learn what that term means, go the Glossary section of the report. The Glossary is located in the center of the publication.

11 Using the soil survey-- --Tables TABLE 1.--TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION TABLE 2.--FREEZE DATES IN SPRING AND FALL TABLE 3.--GROWING SEASON TABLE 4.--ACREAGE AND PROPORTIONAL EXTENT OF THE SOILS The Tables section of the soil survey report provides detailed information on the suitability and limitations of the map units as well as management and production potential of the various soils. Tables help landowners, community leaders, and developers and builders know if it s s good to build on a certain location or if a different location would be better suited to their needs.

12 Using the Tables... Tables offer detailed information on crops and pasture, woodland management and productivity, recreation, wildlife habitat, and engineering. Tables give detailed information on engineering index properties, physical and chemical properties, soil and water features, soil fertility levels, and physical and chemical analysis of selected soils. To use the tables, simply remember your map unit symbol and find it in the appropriate table.

13 Other useful information... The soil survey report has other useful information about ALL the soils in the area. You can learn about: The general soils map Which soils are considered prime farmland How to best use and manage soils What the processes of soil formation are What the factors of soil formation are What landforms and surface geology are in the area There is SO MUCH to learn!!!

14 Find out more about soil surveys... If, after reviewing your personal soil survey report, you still have unanswered questions about the soil survey or your soil, please contact the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service or conservation district office nearest you. They know a lot about soil and are here to serve!

15 Contact NRCS The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office number is located in the telephone book under U.S. Government. Visit online Helping People Help the Land Natural Resources Conservation Service USDA~NRCS is an equal opportunity provider and employer

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