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Colorado Soils Program

NRCS Colorado Technical Resources

Colorado Soils Program

What is a Soil Survey?

Soil surveys provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources that include:

  • maps showing the locations and extent of soils,
  • data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils,
  • information derived from that data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil,
  • and the basic information needed to manage soils sustainably

Soil surveys also provide information needed to protect water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. They are the basis for predicting the behavior of a soil under alternative uses, its potential erosion hazard, potential for ground water contamination, suitability and productivity for cultivated crops, trees, and grasses. For these reasons, soil surveys are used by agricultural producers, community planners, engineers, zoning commissions, developers, as well as homeowners.

The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program (NCSS) is a partnership led by NRCS. It is comprised of Federal land management agencies, state agricultural experiment stations, and state and local units of government that adhere to set standards for map production, data collection, and publication of soil surveys to provide a common national system of soil classification and interpretation.

The Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides agricultural producers, agencies, Technical Service Providers, and others electronic internet access to relevant soils and related information needed to make land-use and management decisions. The WSS:

  • Is designed so that customers without Geographic Information Systems (GIS) knowledge or software can gain easy access to electronic soils information,
  • Provides an alternative to traditional hardcopy publications,
  • Provides the means for quicker delivery of information,
  • Provides electronic access to full soil survey report content,
  • Provides access to the most current data, and
  • Allows customers to get just the information they want.

The Soil Data Mart (SDM) provides the same soil attribute and spatial information as contained in the WSS, except on-line maps of soils information cannot be generated at this site. The SDM is better suited for customers with GIS knowledge and software who desire to download soil attribute and spatial information into their own computing systems. The SDM allows the customer to:

  • Determine where soil tabular and spatial data is available.
  • Download data for one soil survey area at a time. (Download requests for more than one survey area at a time can be submitted through the Geospatial Data Gateway. Going through the Geospatial Data Gateway also provides the option to obtain data on CD or DVD).
  • Download a template Microsoft Access database for working with downloaded data.
  • Generate a variety of reports for one soil survey area at a time.
  • Find out who to contact for information about soil data for a particular state.
  • "Subscribe" or "unsubscribe" to a soil survey area. A person who is subscribed will automatically be notified whenever data for that soil survey area is updated. You must register and login before doing this.

Hard copies of most published Colorado soil survey reports are available; however, the information contained in these hard copy reports may be obsolete. The most current official soil survey information is available from the WSS and SDM sites. Hard copies can be obtained free of charge. 

How to obtain a Soil Survey

Web Soil Survey
Internet access to interactive soil maps and reports

Soil Data Mart
Where available, download soil tabular and spatial data for soil surveys and generate a variety of reports

Hard copies of Colorado Soil Surveys
NRCS Colorado State Office
Soil Survey Program
Denver Federal Center
Building 56, Room 2604
PO Box 25426
Denver, CO 80225-0426
Phone: 720.544.2849

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