Using the Web Soil Survey
The Web Soil Survey provides the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (and the general public) access to soil and other related and relevant information that supports BLM’s efforts to make land use and management decisions about a specific area of land. Web Soil Survey is a Worldwide Web interface that is user-friendly, simple, and provides easy access to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil survey information. Web Soil Survey was designed to allow the user to create a customized soil survey map by identifying/selecting the geographical region in which they are interested and then tailoring the content (text and spatial data) to meet their specific needs. The Web Soil Survey interface integrates soil tabular and geospatial databases from various databases.
National Soil Information System (NASIS)
NASIS is the production database that manages and maintains soil data (i.e., it contains the raw data). Outside users can access this data via the Web Soil Survey and the Soil Data Mart.
Web Soil Survey is most applicable for BLM land treatment and other projects that do not require more detailed soil information than provided by an Order 3 soil survey. The current limitation for creating an area of interest is 10,000 acres. If soil information is required for larger areas, BLM uses digital soil data for geospatial information system (GIS) applications. The URL for the Web Soil Survey is http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/.
The Web Soil Survey allows users to
- “Define” (search and locate) an Area of Interest (AOI);
- “Collect” and analyze data related to the AOI; and
- “Develop” custom reports and maps of the data for the AOI.
Step 1 — Define Area of Interest (AOI)
Click on Area of Interest (AOI) tab at the top of the page and define the AOI by
- Entering an Address;
- Selecting a State and County;
- Entering Section, Township, and Range information; or
- Importing a boundary file from your local computer.
Use the zoom in tool (plus sign) to click and drag a rectangular box around a specific area. Repeat, as necessary, to zoom further.
Select an AOI tool to draw a rectangular box or irregular polygon that defines the AOI and allows selection of associated soil data. Once the AOI has been defined, you can save it for use at a later date.
Step 2 — View and Print Soil Map
Click on the Soil Map tab at the top of the page.
The Map Unit Legend provides the Map Unit Symbol (e.g. 9D), Map Unit Name (e.g., Sassafras gravelly sandy loam, 15 to 25 percent slopes), Acres of each Map Unit in the Area of Interest (AOI), and, the percent of each Map Unit in the AOI. A description of each Map Unit is provided by clicking on the Map Unit Name. Information such as mean annual precipitation and temperature, slope, drainage class, depth to water table, available water capacity, and typical soil profile are also provided.
Step 3 — Explore Soil Information
Click on the Soil Data Explorer tab at the top of the page.
Web Soil Survey generates thematic maps of soil interpretations and chemical or physical properties and provides information on suitability of the Area of Interest (AOI) for various land uses (e.g., building site development, recreational development).
Step 4 — Add items to Free Shopping Cart and Check Out
The Web Soil Survey allows the user to collect a variety of thematic maps and reports in the Shopping Cart, then print or download the content into one file or document for free. Soil map, map unit legend, and map unit descriptions are automatically added. You can view your cart content and download the maps now or save for later.
Note that at any time during Steps 2, 3, or 4, you can redefine the soil map location by clicking on the Area of Interest (AOI) tab and clicking the “Clear AOI” button. Then, repeat Step 1.
Soil surveys are made by carefully observing, describing, and classifying soils in the field and delineating the area of their occurrence on maps. The level of intensity of the data needed determines the field procedures used in observing soils, the minimum size of delineations, the kinds of map units, and the scale of field and published maps.
Soil survey intensity is described using five orders of soil survey with Order 1 being the most detailed. Soil surveys on public lands are typically Order 3 (scale 1:24,000) surveys that are made for land uses that do not require precise knowledge of small areas or highly detailed soil information. These surveys required onsite investigations by expert soil scientists for site specific project related activities or projects.
The National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) identifies and maps more than 20,000 different kinds of soil in the United States. Most soils are given a name, which generally comes from the locale where the soil was first mapped. Named soils are referred to as soil series.
Soil survey reports include the soil survey maps and the names and descriptions of the soils in a report area. These soil survey reports are published by the NCSS and are available to everyone via the Web Soil Survey. Soon the National Soil Information System (NASIS) data base will be linked to the Web Soil Survey.
Additional Soil Information Data Sources
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey