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County Level Soil Surveys in Digital Format — SSURGO

Sample of SSURGO data, combined with roads, water and ortho image

Summary - what is SSURGO?

Vermont SSURGO (Soil Survey Geographic Database) information includes the digital soil maps  and the accompanying soil properties and interpretations database. This data is primarily used in GIS applications.

The SSURGO user should be knowledgeable of the structure of the soil database and familiar with GIS technology.

There are three levels of digital soils data:

  • SSURGO - is the most detailed county level data
  • STATSGO - is less detailed state-wide map
  • NATSGO - is a very general soil map of the entire U.S.

The majority of counties in Vermont use 1:20,000 mapping scale for SSURGO data. The minimum area mapped is, in general, about 3 acres.  This level of mapping is designed for use by farmers, landowners, watershed groups, towns, and county/regional/state natural resource planning agencies.  The data is available for download from the sites listed below.

Two options for downloading SSURGO data:

  1. Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI)
  2. USDA / NRCS

1. Vermont Center for Geographic Information:

Vermont Center for Geographic Information - State GIS Warehouse

To find all types of spatial data to download from VCGI, go to

For soils data options from  this page, scroll down and find the icon called Geologic + Soils, and click on it.  On the resulting Vermont Open Geodata Portal web page, click in the Search window and type “soils”.

A direct link to Soils data specifically, from VCGI:

These data layers are synchronized annually with the official Web Soil Survey data source, and include some common attributes such as map unit name, Prime Soil characteristics, and bedrock depth.  There are several download options – if you want the soils data for a particular county, click on that county in the map and follow instructions that pop up.

* Of especial note, is the "Top Twenty Table" included in the SSURGO attribute data. This is a condensed and easy to use single table, containing the most frequently used data attributes. On the VCGI site it can be found in – scroll down to find VT Data – NRCS TOP20 soils attributes and documentation.  Click that title to download info.

2. USDA / Web Soil Survey site

USDA NRCS Web Soil Survey

-Click on 'Start Web Soil Survey (WSS), then click on the 'Download Soils Data' Tab

This data is available at 1:24,000 scale. In Vermont the data were developed with the intended publication scale of 1:20,000. A "scale waiver" was permitted for many Vermont counties, to allow this non-standard scale and make soil data compatible across Vermont.

A complete SSURGO data set consists of:

  •  map data (as ESRI ArcGIS shapefiles)
  • attribute data (a multitude of separate text tables)
  • database template (MS Access format - this helps with understanding the structure and linkages of the various tables)
  • metadata