What is Soil Survey?
Soil survey is a scientific inventory of one of our most basic and important natural resources—the soil. Soil surveys provide the basic information needed to manage soil sustainably. They also provide information needed to protect water quality, wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Soil surveys are the basis for predicting the behavior of a soil under alternative uses, its potential erosion hazard, potential for ground water contamination, suitability and productivity for cultivated crops, trees, and grasses. Soil surveys are important to planners, engineers, zoning commissions, tax commissioners, homeowners, developers, as well as agricultural producers.
Soil Survey in Massachusetts
The first published soil survey in Massachusetts was the Plymouth County Soil Survey published in 1912. All of the state’s soils have now been mapped and updated soil survey data is available. Most of the field work that resulted in the paper copies of the published soil maps for Massachusetts was done in the 1960s through the 1980s. Work continues to be done to update the soil maps and data, but paper surveys are no longer printed.
Soil Survey Areas:
Click on the soil survey areas for further details including Hydric Soils and Prime Farmland Soils Lists
Click here for a printable map [pdf]
Soil Catena Chart:
A soil catena chart shows soil types listed by parent material and drainage class. Click here to download the Massachusetts Statewide Soil Catena Chart [pdf]
Web Soil Survey
All of the current and official USDA soils information is made available online through the Web Soil Survey (WSS). The Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides agricultural producers, agencies, technical service providers, and others electronic access to relevant soil and related information needed to make land-use and management decisions. WSS allows online viewing of soil survey maps and reports. The new application greatly enhances access to information on soils.Geospatial data for Massachusetts soil surveys that have been SSURGO certified are available either in UTM projection at the NRCS Geospatial Data Gateway or in Massachusetts state plane coordinate system at Massachusetts Geographic Information System (MASSGIS).
The Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides agricultural producers, agencies, technical service providers, and others electronic access to relevant soil and related information needed to make land-use and management decisions. WSS allows online viewing of soil survey maps and reports. The new application greatly enhances access to information on soils.
For more information about Massachusetts soils, contact:
State Soil Scientist
Resource Soil Scientist