Skip Navigation

Featured Soil: Downer

Downer Series

TAXONOMIC CLASS: Coarse-loamy, siliceous, semiactive, mesic Typic Hapludults

Downer profile

Downer - irrigated cabbage

 Downer geographic extent





The Downer Series was first recognized and established as soil series back in 1960 in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Since that time it has been identified in 11 of 21 counties in the Garden State, and approximately 349,294 acres of this series are now mapped in New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware. 

Downer soils are formed in loamy fluviomarine deposits in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain, located in broad interfluves, low hills, and ridges with slopes ranging from 0 to 30 percent. Downer soils are well drained with a seasonal high water table greater than 60 inches and permeability from moderate to moderately rapid.

Overall these soils are desirable for agricultural use since they do not present restrictions for use and management except in areas that are too sandy or too steep.

Most areas are used for growing field crops, vegetables, flowers, and some tree fruits.

Dominant vegetation in natural conditions includes white oak, red oak, scarlet oak, black oak, Virginia pine, pitch pine, hickory, sassafras, dogwood, greenbriar, and American Holly. Loblolly Pine occurs in the southern part of Downer soils distribution. The understory is dominantly low bush blueberry and mountain laurel.

Soil highlights for the Downer Series

Drainage ClassThe black dot represents where the Downer series falls in the range.

Downer drainage

Depth to Bedrock:

depth to bedrock

Depth to Seasonal High Water Table

Downer - water table

Hydric Soil:

Not rated as hydric.

Important Farmland Classification:

Downer map units are included in Prime Farmland, as well as Farmland of Statewide Importance and Farmland of Local Importance



Downer is the unofficial State Soil of New Jersey, as designated by the New Jersey Association of Professional Soil Scientists and the NJ NRCS soil scientists. 

For more detailed information:

For information on Important Farmland Soils (which include the designations of Prime, Statewide and Local) refer to the web soil survey. The criteria are explained, and you can print Adobe Acrobat pdf files of maps of your area of interest.

The Official Series Description Web Page has a collection of descriptions of soil properties for each series in the entire country.

The National Soils Web Page has a wealth of information if you wish to learn more about the rating systems used to describe soil and the classification of soils.


Depth to bedrock - The distance from the surface of the soil to solid rock that underlies the soil and other unconsolidated material. In some cases this material is exposed at the surface. Five depth phases are identified: very shallow, shallow, moderately deep, deep, and very deep.
Drainage class - Refers to the frequency and duration of wet periods under conditions similar to those under which the soil formed. This is a qualitative measurement. Seven classes of natural soil drainage are recognized: very poorly drained, poorly drained, moderately well drained, well drained, somewhat excessively drained, somewhat poorly drained, and excessively drained.
Glacial Drift - A general term applied to all mineral material (clay, silt, sand, gravel, and boulders) transported by a glacier and deposited directly by or from the ice or transported by running water emanating from a glacier. Drift includes unstratified material (till) that forms moraines and stratified deposits that form outwash plains, eskers, kames, varves, and glaciofluvial sediments. The term is generally applied to Pleistocene glacial deposits in areas that no longer contain glaciers.
Hydric Soil - Soils that formed under conditions of saturation, flooding or ponding long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic (lacking oxygen) conditions in the upper part. These soils will have water tables close to the surface of the soil.
Parent material - The primary material (both mineral and organic) from which the soil was formed.
Soil horizons - a layer of soil, approximately parallel to the soil surface
  • The O horizon is an organic layer, which forms above the mineral soil - consisting of material from plants and animals.
  • The A horizon is the surface layer where organic mater accumulates and is intermixed with the mineral fraction.
  • The B horizon is called the subsoil, there is evidence of an alteration by mineral or chemical accumulation and / or movement through the soil profile, often soil structure develops.
  •  The C horizon is called the substratum, it is relatively little affected by biological activity and soil forming processes (pedogensis) it can be like or unlike the A and B horizons above it.
Soil Series - The lowest category in the U.S. system of taxonomy, analogous to a species in classification of plants and animals. Soils that comprise a soil series have horizons that are similar in thickness and arrangement. They will also share close similarities in physical, chemical, and mineralogical makeup.
Water Table - The upper limit of the part of the soil (or underlying material) wholly saturated with water.