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Soil Survey Manual

The Soil Survey Manual (USDA, Agriculture Handbook No. 18) provides the major principles and practices needed for making and using soil surveys and for assembling and using related data. 

The Manual (issued in March 2017) serves as a guiding document for activities of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). Previously published in 1937, 1951, and 1993, the Soil Survey Manual is one of the defining documents for soil survey in the world. It contains extensive information describing each soil property and the proper procedures for observing or measuring it in the field.

Although the Manual is intended primarily for use by soil scientists engaged in making soil surveys, those with limited soil science experience or less familiar with soil survey procedures can also use the information.

Download the Soil Survey Manual

Soil Survey Manual (17.26 MB)
SSM-Errata-2019.pdf (221.44 KB)

Future Updates

Please send comments regarding the 2017 edition or suggestions for updates, enhancements, or supplements to Debbie Surabian, National Leader for Standards.

Cover of the Soil Survey Manual

Ordering Information

A printed copy is available from:

NRCS Distribution Center
Enter keywords: soil survey manual
Phone: 888-526-3227

Recommended Citation

Soil Science Division Staff. 2017. Soil survey manual. C. Ditzler, K. Scheffe, and H.C. Monger (eds.). USDA Handbook 18. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

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