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NSSH Part 600

Introduction

600.00  The Mission of the Soil Science Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Provide leadership and service to produce and deliver scientifically-based soil information to help society to understand, value, and wisely manage global resources.
 

600.01  Purpose

The National Soil Survey Handbook and other technical and procedural references provide the standards, guidelines, definitions, policy, responsibilities, and procedures for conducting the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) in the United States.
 

600.02  National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS)

NCSS standards are common or shared procedures that enhance technology transfer, data sharing, and communications among soil survey participants.

NCSS standards apply to various soil survey functions. The many references listed in Exhibit 600-1 contain standards.
 

600.03  Principal References and Their Maintenance

The three principal publications guiding the NCSS are the Soil Survey Manual, Soil Taxonomy, and the National Soil Survey Handbook. Exhibit 600-1 is a list of other technical references that are important in gathering and applying soil knowledge. The following paragraphs describe how these publications are revised and how they apply to the NCSS in the United States.

  1. The Soil Survey Manual

    The purpose of Agriculture Handbook 18, Soil Survey Manual is to provide the major principles and concepts for making and using soil surveys and the standards and conventions for describing soils. The manual is intended primarily for use by soil scientists engaged in making and interpreting soil surveys. It is also the basic reference for soil survey users who desire to learn the scientific methods that form the basis for soil surveys. It discusses general procedures to illustrate and explain the principles and concepts, but the National Soil Survey Handbook presents current operational procedures of the NRCS in more detail.

    Amendments may be issued to the Soil Survey Manual as NRCS directives. Proposals to the manual may originate from any interested individual or group participating in the NCSS or from staffs of foreign soil survey organizations. The originating group or author forwards the proposal to the National Leader for Soil Survey Standards.
     
  2. Soil Taxonomy and the Keys to Soil Taxonomy

    Agriculture Handbook 436, second edition Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys (1999), provides the common base for the organization of knowledge about soils and the standards for their classification. The Keys to Soil Taxonomy, which is periodically revised, provides excerpts of Soil Taxonomy that can be readily used in the field and contains all the approved revisions and amendments to Soil Taxonomy. Procedures to amend Soil Taxonomy are outlined in Part 614.
     
  3. The National Soil Survey Handbook

    The National Soil Survey Handbook provides guidelines, definitions, policy, responsibilities, and procedures for conducting the NRCS part of the NCSS. It contains information relative to planning and managing soil surveys, collecting and maintaining soil survey information, and distributing the information to users. The National Soil Survey Handbook provides specific information about the field activities, correlation, interpretation, publication, and dissemination of soil surveys of the NCSS.

    The National Soil Survey Center updates the National Soil Survey Handbook on a periodic basis. Any member of the NCSS may suggest changes or additions to the handbook. The originating author sends the proposed changes or additions, along with an explanation of and support for the need for the change or addition, to the National Soil Survey Center. The Center reviews proposed changes, amendments, and additions at least annually. The Director, Soil Science Division, issues approved amendments and notifies users of the National Soil Survey Handbook.

    The National Soil Survey Handbook is not to be amended or supplemented by offices other than the National Soil Survey Center.
     
  4. User Manuals

    User manuals contain procedures for conducting soil survey activities, such as those related to the electronic storage and display of soil information. Examples are the User Guides for the National Soil Information System.
     
  5. Guides

    Guides provide special information and criteria for various functions, such as interpreting soils and updating major land resource areas. Regional guides may be developed and used as needed to supplement national guides.
     

Exhibit 600-1—List of Technical References

Aerial-Photo Interpretation in Classifying and Mapping Soils, 1973, USDA Handbook 294, SCS.

Agricultural Salinity Assessment and Management, ASCE Manuals and Reports on Engineering Practice, Number 71, 1990, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Basic Photo Interpretation: A Comprehensive Approach to Interpretation of Vertical Aerial Photography for Natural Resource Application, 1990, USDA, SCS.

Block Diagrams for Soil Survey Interpretation, 1968, USDA, SCS.

Checklist of United States Trees (Native and Naturalized), Little, Elbert L., Jr., 1979, USDA Handbook 541, USFS, Washington, D.C., 375 pp.

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Volume 6, Part 657--Prime and Unique Farmlands

Field Book for Describing and Sampling Soils, (current version), USDA, NRCS

Field Guide to Pedoderm and Pattern Classes, (current version), USDA, ARS and NRCS.

Field Indicators of Hydric Soils in the United States, (current version), USDA, NRCS.

Forest Cover Types of the United States and Canada, Eyre, F.H., editor, 1980, Society of American Foresters, Washington, D.C., 148 pp., map packet.

General Manual, Title 430, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

Geomorphic Description System, (current version), Schoeneberger, P.J., and Wysocki, D.A. (editors), USDA, NRCS.

Glossary of Landform and Geologic Terms, NSSH Part 629, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

Grazing Lands Technical Publications, (current issues), USDA, NRCS.

Handbook of Soil Survey Investigations Field Procedures, 1971, USDA, SCS.

Hydric Soils of the United States, USDA, NRCS.

Hydric Soils Technical Notes, (current issues), National Technical Committee for Hydric Soils, USDA, NRCS.

Inventorying, Classifying, and Correlating Juniper and Pinyon Communities to Soils in Western United States” Grazing Land Technology Institute, September 1997, USDA, NRCS.

Keys to Soil Taxonomy, (current edition), Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

Land Capability Classification, 1973, USDA Handbook 210, SCS, (in NSSH Exhibit 622-2).

Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin, 2006, USDA Handbook 296, NRCS, 669 pp., illus.

Manual of Septic Tanks, 1969, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service (PHS), Publication No. 526.

Measuring Hydraulic Conductivity for Use in Soil Surveys, Soil Survey Investigations Report No. 38, March 1982, USDA, SCS.

National Agronomy Manual, 2002, USDA, NRCS.

National Biology Manual, 2003, USDA, NRCS.

National Cultural Resources Procedures Handbook, H 190 601- Part 601, (current edition), USDA, NRCS.

National Engineering Handbook, Chapter 7 – Hydrologic Soil Groups, 2007, USDA, NRCS.

National Food Security Act Manual, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

National Forestry Handbook, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

National Forestry Manual, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

NationalRangeand Pasture Handbook, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

National Cooperative Soil Characterization Database, USDA, NRCS.

National Soil Information System Documents, USDA, NRCS.

National Soil Information System Downloads, USDA, NRCS.

National Soil Information System Metadata, USDA, NRCS.

National Soil Survey Handbook, (Accessed [month/day/year]), USDA, NRCS, title 430-VI.

Official Soil Series Descriptions (OSD) Database, Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

PLANTS Database, 2012, USDA, NRCS.

Predicting Soil Erosion By Water: A Guide to Conservation Planning With the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), 1997, USDA Handbook 703, ARS.

Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, Part 1926, Subpart P, Excavations (current issue), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

SC/OSD Maintenance Tool User’s Guide, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

Soil Geochemistry Spatial Database, 2009, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Quality Publications, (current issues), USDA, NRCS.

Soil Quality Test Kit Guide, 1999, USDA, ARS and NRCS.

Soil Series Classification Database, Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Survey Field and Laboratory Methods Manual, Soil Survey Investigations Report 51, version 1.0, 2009, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database, Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Survey Investigation Reports, National Soil Survey Laboratory, USDA, SCS, (issued for various states).

Soil Survey Laboratory Information Manual, Soil Survey Investigations Report 45, version 2.0, 2011, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Survey Laboratory Methods and Procedures for Collecting Soil Samples, Soil Survey Investigations Report No. 1, July 1984, USDA, SCS.

Soil Survey Laboratory Methods Manual, Soil Survey Investigations Report 42, version 4.0, 2004, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Survey Manual, 1993, USDA Handbook 18, Soil Survey Division Staff, SCS.

Soil Survey Technical Notes, (current issues), Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

Soil Taxonomy: A Basic System of Soil Classification for Making and Interpreting Soil Surveys, second edition, 1999, USDA Handbook 436, Soil Survey Staff, NRCS.

Standard Practice for Classification of Soils and Soil-Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes, 2004, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), D 3282-93.

Standard Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System), 2008, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), D 2487-06.

Standard Practice for Description and Identification of Soils (Visual-Manual Procedure), 2008, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), D 2488-06.

Technical Soil Services Handbook, (current issue), USDA, NRCS.

Testing Methods for Phosphorus and Organic Matter, Soil Survey Laboratory, USDA, NRCS.

The Guy Smith Interviews: Rationale for Concepts in Soil Taxonomy, 1986, Soil Management Support Services, USDA, SCS.

U.S. General Soil Map (STATSGO2), Soil Survey Staff, USDA, NRCS.

Wind Erosion Forces in the United States and Their Use in Predicting Soil Loss, 1968, USDA Handbook 346, SCS.