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Representing soil chemistry with symbols of Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc sticking out of the ground next to growing young

Washington | Soils

Soil Health is soil managed to its maximum potential through a system of conservation practices, including no-till, cover crops, advanced nutrient and pest management, and conservation buffers.

Washington Soil Health

As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time.

The resources on this soil health section of our site are designed to help visitors understand the basics and benefits of soil health—in Washington and across the Nation.

The Hope in Healthy Soil

This seven-part video series explores how an increasing number of farmers throughout the country are creating a new hope in healthy soil by regenerating our nation’s living and life-giving soil. The video series is designed to help consumers, educators and students understand some of the important principles and practices behind the growing soil health movement. The full series can be viewed here.

Soil Survey Program in Washington

The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program (NCSS) is a partnership led by NRCS of federal land management agencies, state agricultural experiment stations and state and local units of government that provide soil survey information necessary for understanding, managing, conserving and sustaining the nation's limited soil resources.

Soil surveys provide an orderly, on-the-ground, scientific inventory of soil resources that includes maps showing the locations and extent of soils, data about the physical and chemical properties of those soils, and information derived from that data about potentialities and problems of use on each kind of soil in sufficient detail to meet all reasonable needs for farmers, agricultural technicians, community planners, engineers, and scientists in planning and transferring the findings of research and experience to specific land areas. 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 surveys also provide a basis to help predict the effect of global climate change on worldwide agricultural production and other land-dependent processes. The NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division through its World Soil Resources Staff helps gather and interpret soil information for global use.

NRCS provides the soil surveys for the privately owned lands of the nation and, through its National Soil Survey Center, provides scientific expertise to enable the NCSS to develop and maintain a uniform system for mapping and assessing soil resources so that soil information from different locations can be shared, regardless of which agency collects it. NRCS provides most of the training in soil survey to Federal agencies and assists other Federal agencies with their soil inventories on a reimbursable basis. NRCS is also responsible for developing the standards and mechanisms for providing digital soil information for the national spatial data infrastructure required by Executive Order 12906.

The latest state soil fact sheets can be found hereHistorical soil survey reports for Washington can be viewed and downloaded here

Historical soil surveys have been scanned, converted to portable document format (pdf), and archived on a public download site. The text and maps are saved as separate files. You can download an individual file or select a folder to download an entire survey. The bookmarks in the pdf files only function when the files are downloaded. They do not function in the previews provided by the site.

Additional information on navigating and downloading state soil reports and fact sheets can be found at the following links:

Educational Resources and Links of Interest