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Policy and Procedure
Technical Soil Services Handbook - operational and procedural policy and guidance for technical soil services within NRCS.
National Soil Survey Handbook - policy, definitions, and procedures for conducting soil survey.
Soil Survey Manual - major principles and practices for soil surveys.
Soil Change Guide - Procedures for Soil Survey and Resource Inventory - designed for soil survey, vegetation, and ecological site or unit inventory work in order to help soil scientists and other inventory specialists collect interpretable data about soil change.
Land-Capability Classification (Ag Handbook 210; 1961) (PDF; 782 KB) - Since soil surveys are based on all of the characteristics of soils that influence their use and management, interpretations are needed for each of the many uses. Among these interpretations the Land Capability Classification is one of the most important. It groups soils into capability units, subclasses, and classes. This grouping serves as an introduction of the soil map to farmers, other land users, land use planners, people in agribusiness, elected officials and others. The grouping explains the limitations and hazards for a specific agricultural use.
Technical Notes - specific technical subjects for soil scientists.
National Instructions - specific project guidance to offices involved.
Soil Taxonomy - principal reference to soil classification.
Keys to Soil Taxonomy - taxonomic keys for field classification.
Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin (Ag Handbook 296) - This publication describes 28 land resource regions and the physiography, geology, climate, water resources, soils, biological resources, and kinds of land use in 278 major land resource areas in the United States, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Basin.
Field Book for Describing and Sampling Soils - standards for observing and recording soil and site characteristics.
Field Indicators of Hydric Soils, version 7.0 (PDF; 5.3 MB)
Soil Survey Office Laboratory References
Soil Survey Field and Laboratory Methods Manual (SSIR 51), version 2.0 (1-31-14; PDF; 10.3 MB)
Soil Survey Office Laboratory Safety Guide, version 1.0 (6-10-09; PDF; 453 KB)
Laboratory Methods and Information
Lab Methods Manual - soil laboratory methodology and reference for the laboratory analyst.
Soil Survey Laboratory Information Manual - Companion reference to the Laboratory Methods Manual, SSIR No. 42. Sampling methodology, descriptions of KSSL data sheets, and other information to help users of lab data.
Testing Methods for Phosphorus and Organic Matter
KSSL Sample Submission (ZIP; 722 KB) - Worksheets and documentation necessary for KSSL sample submission.
Geomorphic Description System
These documents provide a descriptive method and a technical guide for applying and understanding geomorphic and geologic concepts and terms for soil inventory in the USA National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program.
Geomorphic Description System, version 4.2 (PDF; 2.5 MB)
Glossary of Landform and Geologic Terms (Part 629 of the National Soil Survey Handbook) (DOC; 1.1 MB)
Installing Monitoring Wells in Soils
This document provides general guidance on how to install and use piezometers and water-table wells to investigate soil water regimes under conditions commonly encountered in Soil Survey and hydropedology studies.
Installing Monitoring Wells in Soils, version 1.0 (PDF; 1.9 MB)
The file below is a bibliography of publications from Wet Soils Monitoring Projects across the United States.
Bibliography (PDF; 70 KB)
Additional instructions for version 3.1 (DOCX; 120 KB)
Additional instructions for version 3.020 of the Excel-based forms (DOCX; 119 KB)
Additional instructions for version 4.000 of the Excel-based 232 forms (DOCX; 164 KB)
Instructions for version 2.700 of 232 forms (DOCX; 157 KB)
Introduction to Using Peninized 232 forms (DOCX; 12 KB)
USDA Connect - Pedon Description Forms (Authorized Personnel Only)
Mineral Soils Pedon Description Forms
Organic Soils Pedon Description Form
Subaqueous Soils Pedon Description Forms
National Soil Information System (NASIS)
Land Use (Title 310)
National Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) Handbook (PDF; 11.0 MB) – This handbook explains the preparation and use of the LESA system. It was developed to meet the requirements of the Farmland Protection Policy Act. The Land Evaluation (LE) part of LESA is combined with the site assessment (SA) part of LESA to determine the total value for a specific site for agriculture. The higher the total value of LESA, the higher the capabilities of that site for agricultural. The LESA system can help units of government meet the following two overall objectives: (1) facilitate identification and protection of important agricultural land, and (2) assist in implementing farmland protection policies. LESA utilizes soil survey information and interpretations, and planning concepts and principles. It can be used to facilitate decision making by State and local planners, landholders, developers, and governing officials.
Red Tart Cherry Site Inventory for Grand Traverse County, Michigan (PDF; 9.63 MB) – This document explains how the local Land Evaluation (LE) committee established the soil, topography, and climate requirements to designate Unique Farmland and the LE numerical values for local Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA). It includes discussion of facilities to process the cherries for market. The 7CFR657.5(b) defines the prerequisites for designating soil map units as unique farmland.
National Commodity Crop Productivity Index (NCCPI) User Guide (PDF; 4.3 MB) -- Describes the methodology and logic of the NCCPI model.
NCCPI maps (hosted by the Geospatial Research Unit)
Microsoft Access -- Guide to Access for soil scientists.