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Basic Soil Survey: Field and Lab (000012)


This course equips the new soil scientists with concepts and techniques to carry out field soil surveys in accordance with NRCS policy and technical guidelines. Geomorphic and stratigraphic principles are applied to help define soil-landscape relationships for the purpose of designing map units. Mapping techniques both past and present are presented. Soils are examined and described in contexts of (1) transects to verify map unit composition, (2) pedons representing map unit components and (3) sampling for laboratory analyses. Descriptions and lab data are used to classify soils according to the Keys to Soil Taxonomy. Soil interpretations and the function of Technical Soil Services are discussed.


Upon completion of this training, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the role of soil survey in the missions of NRCS and the Soil Survey Division
  • Locate and use information in National Cooperative Soil Survey Standards
  • Use geomorphology and stratigraphy principles to develop and delineate soil map units.
  • Describe soils, and use descriptions with lab data to classify soils according to the National Cooperative Soil Survey standards and guidelines.
  • Collect, evaluate, and catalog documentation to support correlation decisions.
  • Recognize the role of investigations, in the soil survey program, for sampling soils and interpreting laboratory information in support of soil survey investigations.
  • Explain how soil properties affect interpretations and program applications.




Pre course: two days    Course: two weeks    Post course: none 

Target Audience

Soil Scientists or those associated directly with the soil survey program with three months to less than two years of field experience.

NEDC Contact

Kathy Buttle

Technical Coordinator

Shawn McVey


Go to AgLearn to request enrollment in Basic Soil Survey: Field and Lab (NRCS-NEDC-000012).