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Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) Fact Sheet

Data Product Keywords

Soils, soil taxonomy, typical pedon, geographically associated soils, competing series, distribution and extent, range in characteristics, type location, drainage and permeability, use and management.

Summary

The Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) is a national collection of more than 20,000 detailed soil series descriptions, covering the United States, Territories, Commonwealths, and Island Nations served by USDA-NRCS. The descriptions, in a text format, serve as a national standard.

The soil series is the lowest category of the national soil classification system. The name of a soil series is the common reference term, used to name soil map units. Soil series are the most homogenous classes in the system of taxonomy. “Official Soil Series Descriptions” define specific soil series in the United States, Territories, Commonwealths, and Island Nations served by USDA-NRCS. They are descriptions of the taxa in the series category of the national system of soil classification. They serve mainly as specification for identifying and classifying soils. The descriptions contain soil properties that define the soil series, distinguish it from other soil series, serve as the basis for the placement of that soil series in the soil family, and provide a record of soil properties needed to prepare soil interpretations.

Extent of Program

National.

Available Products Coverage

OSDs are available for all soil series officially recognized in the United States, Territories, Commonwealths, and Island Nations served by USDA-NRCS.

Information Content

The OSDs describe general and detailed information about each recognized soil in the United States, Territories, Commonwealths, and Island Nations served by USDA-NRCS, including location, author’s initials, introductory paragraph, taxonomic classification, detailed soil profile description, location of the typical soil profile, range in characteristics, competing series, geographic setting, geographically associated soils, drainage and permeability, use and vegetation, distribution and extent, series established, remarks, and additional data.

Product Delivery Format

OSDs are stored as unformatted ASCII text files and as HTML-formatted files.

Technical, Ordering, and Availability Information

The OSDs are available through both the Web and through non-Web means. To obtain OSDs through the Web, the URL for the NRCS soil survey data is available here.  To obtain OSDs through non-Web means, contact the USDA-NRCS State Office in your state.