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Soil Education - Soil Survey Block Diagrams

Soil Education—Soil Survey Block Diagrams

By Larry R. Sabata, Soil Scientist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Topeka, Kansas

In the initial publication of most county soil surveys, often included among the contents of the report, were soil block diagrams. The diagrams showed examples of the predominant soils in a soil survey area and where they occurred on the landscape in relation to each other. Included in the diagrams, in cross section, was a schematic display that showed the underlying geologic parent materials from which the soil formed. The block diagrams served as a tool to help users of the soil survey better understand the soil resource information that was provided in the reports. The soil information that was provided in a block diagram was of particular interest to students, educators, engineers, geologists, and in general anyone who desired to obtain an overall concept of how the predominant soils in a soil survey area occurred within the local landscape.

With the advent of Web Soil Survey, the soil block diagrams are no longer included in the soil information report. The original hard copy soil survey reports that contained this information are no longer available for distribution. However, there is now good news to report. Recently, NRCS’ website added within its soil education job aid section a link that a user can go to that provides a Soil Survey Graphics map that shows many locations across the U.S. where examples of soil block diagrams are now available online. The user selects a site on the map that is geographically close to their area of study, tags on to the site location as depicted on the map, and then obtains block diagram examples of the soil/landscape information that interests him or her.

Anyone who has a specific need or even just a general desire to learn more about this available source of soil resource information is encouraged to visit the website at the following: http://soils.usda.gov/education/training/block_diagrams_map.html

To learn more about soil block diagrams, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office located at your local county U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.