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Side-by-side photos of soil survey fieldwork. A black and white historical photo of Dr. Charles E. Kellogg sitting on the ground at the surface of a soil pit and holding a soil sample. A modern color photo of three soil scientists collecting and describing soils in the field.

Celebrate Soil Survey

Join NRCS as we celebrate 125 years of Soil Survey!

125 Years of Soil Survey themed art.

All life depends upon the soil…There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.

Dr. Charles E. Kellogg, third Chief of USDA’s Bureau of Chemistry and Soils and leader of USDA’s soil survey program from 1934-1971

On May 3, 1899, Congress authorized funds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the soil resources of the United States in the field and laboratory. By the end of 1899, USDA mapped 720,000 acres and published four separate soil surveys: Cecil County, Maryland; Connecticut Valley (portions of Connecticut and Massachusetts); Salt Lake Valley of Utah; and Pecos Valley, New Mexico.

Today, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through the National Cooperative Soil Survey, fulfills a legislative mandate to inventory soil resources and keep the survey relevant to ever-changing needs.

In this NRCS Success Story, Chief Terry Cosby shares how soil surveys help guide agricultural development and support community planning and resource development.

View the May 2024 recording of the Field Notes Webinar to learn more about the origins of the soil survey program and the National Cooperative Soil Survey.

Additional Information

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