United States Soil Survey Databases

Authored by: Jim R. Fortner , Alan B. Price

Handbook of Soil Sciences Resource Management and Environmental Impacts

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803073
eBook ISBN: 9781439803080
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil surveys have been conducted in the United States since about 1886. An organized soil survey program began in 1899. In 1953, the Secretary of Agriculture established the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS), a group of federal and state agencies and universities loosely knit through cooperative agreements, in part to accelerate the completion of soil surveys. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), provides federal leadership to the NCSS. Soil surveys and supporting pedagogical studies conducted through the NCSS are complete for about 91% of all lands in the United States and its territories. About 96% of the privately owned land has a detailed soil survey, generally at a scale of 1:12,000–1:24,000. Information about soils is available in approximately 3000 county-level soil survey reports and databases. A digital soil survey at a scale of 1:250,000 for the United States (1:1 million for Alaska) is also available. Each year, between 50 and 100 new soil surveys with digital spatial and attribute data and corresponding soil survey reports are developed and published. Most completed soil surveys have been digitized and are available online.

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