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News Release

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Announces Release of the Updated Wake County Soil Survey

Stuart Lee

Eath Week hands 2012.

Imagine having new keys to unlock an entire world resting beneath your feet. That is exactly what residents of Wake County have been provided through a recently completed agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Wake County Board of Commissioners. An updated soil survey just released by NRCS provides Wake County’s growing population with new information on soil types in the county. The updated survey also provides residents, businesses and local government information to make better land-use decisions related to farming, engineering, development, infrastructure, landscaping, gardening, and the conservation of soil and water resources in rural and urban settings.

"NRCS is excited about the release of the long awaited update of Wake County soil survey," said Debbie Anderson, NRCS Soil Survey Regional Director. "Through the hard work of soil scientists using modern technologies the soil survey update for Wake County now unlocks more information and provides a greater planning tool for more people to use…and that has been missing for an extended period of time for the county."

The original Wake County Soil Survey was published in November of 1970, almost 50 years ago. At that time Wake County’s population was less than 200,000, nowhere near the more than one million residents the county hosts today. When the county was first surveyed, soil scientists focused mainly on soil interpretations for agricultural use. However, as the county population grew and land-use changed, updated information was needed to support the demand placed upon the natural resource resting under our feet.

“Farmers can use the soil survey to help determine crop and production suitability based off the characteristics of soil series identified within the old and updated survey,” said, Anderson. “Wake County has grown drastically since the original survey, and there was greater need to expand the survey to support the demand on Wake County soils. Now, landowners can better utilize the survey to improve their use of the soils in their own back yards, developers can use the updated survey to support construction, our local officials can consult the survey for new and improved planning capabilities to support the community. This updated soil survey is more important than ever in this rapidly expanding county.”

So, what does a soil survey provide its users? Information is provided on the physical nature and state of the soil, e.g. mineral compositions, drainage and permeability, use and suitability for vegetation, and geographic setting range and composition. The survey also provides classification for engineering purposes based mainly on mechanical properties, e.g. permeability, plasticity, and strength.  Additionally, the survey provides users with maps of soil boundaries, descriptions, and tables of soil properties and features.

The Wake County Soil Survey places most of the county in the Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) known as the Southern Piedmont with a southeast portion of the county falling into the Southern Coastal Plain MLRA. Soil series within the MLRA are identified, and are then named by a geographic reference from where the soil was first described. Under the updated survey a new soil series has been identified as Rolesville, which was first identified near the Town of Rolesville.

Wake County residents, land use professionals, government agencies and others can access the updated Wake County Soil Survey data through the Web Soil Survey (, a web-based system where users can tailor soil survey mapping and interpretations for their particular "area of interest."  Local soil survey users needing assistance using or interpreting Soil Survey data may contact their local NRCS or Soil and Water Conservation District Field Office.

NRCS would like to thank the many partners who contributed support towards the completion of the updated Wake County Soil Survey, which includes the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the support of the Town of Apex, the Town of Fuquay Varina, the Town of Garner, the Town of Knightdale, the Town of Morrisville, the Town of Wake Forest, the Town of Wendell and the Town of Zebulon.