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Raster Soil Surveys (RSS)

Download button for State Extent RSS.



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Raster Soil Survey is a reference to the products of soil survey work completed using digital soil mapping methodologies. Digital soil mapping is the production of georeferenced soil databases based on the quantitative relationships between soil measurements made in the field or laboratory and environmental data and may be represented as either discrete classes or continuous soil properties. Both digital and traditional soil mapping use a conceptual soil-landscape model as a means for organizing environmental information into discrete divisions. The primary difference between these two approaches is that digital methods exploit quantitative relationships of the environmental information, while traditional methods utilize a more subjective approach and the approximate relationships of the environmental information to spatially represent where the divisions are represented.

Traditional soil mapping products are produced primarily through qualitative assessment of the landscape using aerial photography and other supporting digital environmental data and field sampling, and are delivered in a vector (SSURGO) or gridded (gSSURGO) data structure. Digital soil mapping exploits the quantitative relationships between soil observations and digital environmental data and products are delivered as raster data (i.e., rows and columns of pixels with geographic locations storing categorical or continuous data). Raster Soil Surveys are delivered here as stand-alone state extent databases at 10m spatial resolution and as part of the Gridded National Soil Survey Geographic Database (gNATSGO) in both 10m spatial resolution for states and 30m spatial resolution for CONUS.

Figure 1. Comparison of water table depth information derived from the SSURGO database (left) where three soil survey areas meet and from an updated Raster Soil Survey database (right) in North Dakota.

Status Map

A map of available RSS databases is available here as part of the gNATSGO data source map.


ArcTools for working with RSS available here.

Digital Soil Mapping in NRCS

Visit the Digital Soil Mapping Focus Team for more information on digital soil mapping activities in soil survey.

Recommended Data Citations

Soil Survey Staff. Raster Soil Survey (RSS) Database for State name. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Available online at Month, day, year (FYyear official release).

Citation Example

The following example is for the FY2020 RSS dataset for the State of Minnesota. Such citations should appear in the reference section of your document.

Soil Survey Staff. Raster Soil Survey Database for Minnesota. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Available online at December 1, 2020 (FY2020 official release).