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New Jersey Featured Soil: Washington Series

Photo of a Washington soil profile Photo of crop growing in Washington soil

Photo of geographic extent of Washington soil series in USA

The Washington Series was first recognized and established as a soil series in 1917 in Belvidere, New Jersey. Since that time, 122,000 acres of this series are now mapped in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is named after Washington, New Jersey.

Washington soils are formed in old glacial drift (pre-Wisconsin age) or colluvium derived mainly from limestone and granitic gneiss. Much of the parent material of this soil are greater than 35 percent base saturation with well developed Bt horizons.

Washington soils are often farmed, being in fertile nearly level to steep glacial till plains in limestone valleys. Precautions need to be taken to prevent erosion on steeper slopes. The landscape picture above shows the typical crop grown on Washington. Washington soils are often associated with cavernous limestone bedrock. Cavernous limestone is typically very old and weathered creating the possibility of sinkholes presenting special problems for most urban development.

Soil highlights for the Washington Series

The black dot represent where the Washington series falls in the range.

Drainage Class:

Photo depicting the drainage class






Depth to Bedrock:

Photo depicting the depth to bedrock




Depth to Seasonal High Water Table:

Photo depicting the depth to seasonal high water table





Hydric Soil:

Not rated as hydric


Important Farmland Classification:





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.