This post was originally published on April 3, 2017, and updated on December 12, 2019.
Whether you’re planning on farming or hunting on your property, it’s always important to know what kind of soil you have on it. Knowing the characteristics of the soil on your land can help you better determine future land use and management. Luckily, there’s a free tool that helps you accomplish this on your own.
Landowners and buyers can go online and obtain a web soil survey (WSS) that provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). The report provides properties of soil map units such as color, permeability, texture, pH level, slope and many more. It also provides the position on the landscape, percent area in the landscape and capacities such as the yield for crop, pasture, and vegetable.
According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), over 95 percent of the nation’s counties have soil maps and data currently available. However, the NRCS anticipates reaching 100 percent in the near future. So, you’ll probably have no trouble finding information on the soil in your area.
To get your soil survey, go here and click on the green “Start WSS” button. From there, you can begin to create your report.
First, you need to define your area of interest. Then, you can click on the soil map tab to view descriptions of the soils in your area of interest or print the map. You can also click the soil data explorer tab to view soil data and suitability, and more. Any items you want to save can be added to your free shopping cart where you can print or download your customized report.
A soil report shouldn’t serve as a replacement for consulting a soil scientist, but more as a source for getting preliminary information. Get to know your soil and enjoy your land!