Started by Daddymem, May 07, 2005, 01:37:18 PM

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The NRCS has mapped most (if not all) areas for soil types.  If you go here:
 select your state from the map, then under the Information About tag on the right, select soils.  If you are lucky, there will be a link to a GIS site for your area where you can get the soils type.  Some states will sell you the maps, some states give them away, some may be found at a library or a farm assistance location.  A typical map is an aerial photograph that has blobs drawn on it with a code in the blob.  Find your location, write down the code or codes and look that up in the key to get the soil series name.  The books contain all kinds of information that is typical of the soil series types.  If you don't have access to the maps but know what series soil you have, then go here:
 and type the series name in, you will get a description of that soil.  
Type Carver in for example (Carver is the name of the soil that is on my lot).
Typical Pedon
O,A,E, and B are all the different layers up on the top.  C and beyond are the layers that make up the soil we are most interested in for drainage, septic, etc.  The roots go down through the B layer but usually not into the C layer.  Each layer has a general description.  Funny text like "10YR 5/8" is a color code from the Munsell color chart.  Not too much use besides giving an indication on how evolved the soils are or an indication of groundwater (very nerdy stuff here).  
Geographic Setting
This is useful for it gives you mean annual temperature ranges (might be useful for Cool Tubes, sorry Jonesy, perhaps they have something similar down under ;) )  You can also see the typical annual precipitation and frost free days.
 Drainage and Permeability
This is very important to note if you should take extra precautions for slow permeability in your soils.    My soil drains very rapid so there will be no problem with a basement (plus I know my groundwater is 20-30 feet down).

If you are lucky enough to have a soils book, there is a ton more information.  There are all kinds of tables covering the physical properties of the soil, the ability to grow crops, handle sewer leaching areas, some constructability  information, etc.
Où sont passées toutes nos nuits de rêve?
Aide-moi à les retrouver.
" I'm an engineer Cap'n, not a miracle worker"

glenn kangiser

This is interesting info to me - I am interested in identifying the type clay I have here as well as the other things you mentioned.  Would this be in a soils book and can you recommend a good one ???  Thanks Daddymem.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


Looks like you may be in luck Glenn, California has online information.  Go here and pick your county:  Look around for a link to soil survey report and a viewer should pop up.  
For example, here is Colusa county:

If I lived in the upper left corner I need to know 337.  On the pulldown to the left I get Millsholm-Saltcanyon association and a nice window with all that information pops up.  Instead I could use that other link and type in Millsholm then type in Saltcanyon (when there is more than one name it is a soil complex made of both).  Hope that helps because beyond this, you would have to tell me where in Mariposa you are and you might have to kill me then  :P
Où sont passées toutes nos nuits de rêve?
Aide-moi à les retrouver.
" I'm an engineer Cap'n, not a miracle worker"


I probably should have explained some of the soil descriptions.

Sand: this is clean, visible crystals.  Think beach.

Silt:  fine particles.  This leaves your hands dirty.  It sticks together good and forms ribbons when pinched between your fingers.  Think mudpies.

Clay: This is doughy stuff.  Soils are more often silts than they are clays.  This leaves your hands dirty.  The boston blue clay around here can actually be used like modeling clay you buy at the store.  This ribbons to the point that a very thin snake can be formed from it.  Think play-doh.

Loam:  This is a mixute of sand with silt or clay.  You can ball it up and it sticks together.  Think topsoil.

We usuall refer to soils with terms like: sand, sandy loam, loamy sand, or silty loam (amongst others).
Où sont passées toutes nos nuits de rêve?
Aide-moi à les retrouver.
" I'm an engineer Cap'n, not a miracle worker"