Soil Survey Program
Louisiana Cooperative Soil Survey Program
Charles Guillory , State Soil Scientist
Phone: (318) 473-7789
Michael Lindsey, Assistant State Soil Scientist
Phone: (318) 473-7757
Fax: (318) 473-7603
The Louisiana Cooperative Soil Survey Program continues to be one of the most progressive in the country. In October 1991, Louisiana celebrated the milestone of completing the initial soils inventory for the entire state, one of the first states in the country to do so. The effort resulted in documenting the extent and location of the state’s more than 2,000 soil types covering over 3.5 million acres.
Having an accurate inventory of soil mapping units and their properties is essential for determining the best use of the land. The soil properties determine what crops or trees will grow well, if an area is prone to flooding, if a pond will leak, if a site is suitable for construction, and information about many other land uses.
To get this accurate picture of what soils are where, soil scientists have walked most of Louisiana’s 28.2 million acres of land. Along the way they examined the soil and collected samples. The soil scientists described the samples, and sent some of them to the Louisiana State University’s Soil Characterization Laboratory and the USDA National Soil Survey Laboratory for further analysis.
The information obtained from the fieldwork is made available to the public as soil surveys that are printed, included on compact disks or viewable via the Internet. Louisiana soil surveys include maps showing the locations of the soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information about potential uses and problems associated with various uses. That information is now available for every Louisiana parish in some format.
Louisiana’s soil survey program is led by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana State University School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences, the LSU Agricultural Center, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the US Forest Service, and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts providing funding, personnel, soil analysis and research. It is a great accomplishment in furthering the protection and wise use of the soil and other natural resources of Louisiana; one all Louisianians can be proud of.
The soil survey in Louisiana is a perfect example of how much more can be accomplished with a cooperative effort. Without the superb cooperation of local, state and federal entities in Louisiana, the initial soil survey would still be a long way from completion.
Federal, state and local agencies and organizations are now committed to the next phase, refining the initial soils data and delivering current soils information and interpretations to the citizens of Louisiana.
Our new short term objectives are to develop one statewide legend, link all common map units, populate our National Soil Information System, digitally refine soil lines and identify potential problems, and ensure a “perfect join” for all of our soil information. Our final short term task will be to develop a long term plan by which we can evaluate all of our existing lab data, evaluate all known deficiencies, establish work planning groups, and identify special projects and studies that are needed, such as water table studies.
Our long-term objectives in Louisiana are to maintain and update spatial and attribute data by conducting needed data collection activities and to upgrade the entire state database to a common high standard.
What Lies Beneath the Surface - Soils Update
The initial soil survey of Louisiana was completed in October 1991, with all sixty-four parishes being published. This was a partnership effort between the NRCS, the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. NRCS soil scientists have started updating the older surveys, bringing them up to modern-day standards. To-date, eight of these have been completed with an additional three near completion. The update process has replaced the historic hard copy publication with a new state-of-the-art digital format.
The updated soil surveys, as well as many of the other surveys, can be viewed on, or downloaded from, the internet at:
Interactive soil map and interpretative information can be accessed from the Web Soil Survey at:
How to Use Web Soil Survey
New Web Soil Survey Brochure in Spanish! Just released! This Spanish-language version of the new National Cooperative Soil Survey brochure shows step-by-step how to navigate the Web Soil Survey. View and print soil maps, explore soil information, download data for use in GIS, and more.
Fact Sheets and User Guides
The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.
Louisiana Soil Quality Card (PDF; 123KB)
Soil Quality Management Fact Sheet (PDF; 100 KB)
Web Soil Survey (PDF; 19.1 MB)
Soil Data Mart (PDF; 2.6 MB)
Geospatial Data Gateway (PDF; 6.9 MB)
Various references used to conduct soil survey activities