Use these resources to get the dirt on soil

I grew up playing in red dirt. Not in the south, but in central Ohio. The tree trunks were all stained red and when dad plowed, the small amount that stretched into the field was like a shining beacon compared to the plain old brown soil surrounding it. There was not a large amount of this red soil, actually only a small area of it.

On every soil survey this red soil is listed as ChB. Also known as Chili it is defined in the county as a deep, gently sloping, well drained soil on ridges and low knolls on stream terraces. Typically the surface layer is brown, firm loam about ten inches thick.

Results

The soil survey mentions that included in this soil mapping area are small amounts of Amanda, Canfield, Centerburg, Rittman and Sleeth. That is quite a variety; none of which have a bright orangey/red color on their surface.

That does not make the soil survey wrong. It is almost impossible to get every soil type in one acre identified, let alone a county. Most every soil type has a percentage of three or four other soil types that may occur within it.

Soil identification

For now my red dirt remains a mystery; but have you ever wondered about the soil on your property? Barns and homes were built, septic systems were installed and someone probably researched the soils before construction. More then likely these small areas were identified.

If you are interested in finding out what your soil types are, there are many ways to go about it. You can always start by paying a visit to your local Soil and Water Conservation District, where they can help you locate your soils in a county soil survey book.

If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer there are various ways to go about finding the information online. The NRCS offers an Interactive Map Service called Web Soil Survey. It allows users to view soils in an Area of Interest and select soil properties of interest.

Be warned a bit of patience will be required to us this site, but it will be well worth it. Web Soil Survey has a wealth of knowledge, and once you are able to navigate the system you will have all the information about the soils on your property.

Results

You will find a total description of your exact soil types, to tables full of information, like average rain fall, land capability and yields per acre of crops and pasture, woodland management and productivity, and information on building site development.

These examples are just scratching the surface of the information available on Web Soil Survey. Visit http:///websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov to access your soils.

Another great website you can use to map the soils on your property is http://casoilresources.lawr.usdavis.edu/gmap/ . To use this website you must have Google Earth downloaded on your computer, but that is the only requirement. This site is very user friendly and can be a quick reference for your properties soil.

Once you are at the UC Davis Soil Web page, click on the second Google Earth Interface and it will automatically open Google Earth. Locate your area of interest and the soils will show up once you zoom in.

You can then click a soil type and it will bring up the full name, percent slope and horizons of the soil. You will also have the ability to click on the full soil name to learn more about the soil characteristics.

If you would like to know more about the soils you’ve found on your property, write the names down and go to http://soil.usda.gov/technical/classification/osd/ . Then enter the soil name and click find series.

You can then choose to: “View Description” or “View Extent Map. “ View description will give the entire soil description, the horizon descriptions, competing series and geographic setting.

If you go to view extent map, it will take you to a map of the states and counties that the soil type occurs in and the number of acres in each county.

Take some time today and find out about your property’s many soils.

About the Author

Lori Morey has worked as the Natural Resources Specialist at Harrison SWCD since August 2012. She is a native of Morrow County and previously worked for Richland SWCD. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in Environmental Resources Management from The Ohio State University ATI. More Stories by Lori Morey

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