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Soil Survey Geographic Database

written by Grant Hamilton

Basic Information Name: Soil Survey Geographic Database
Acronym: SSURGO
Author/Owner/Steward: USDA
Type: Spatial and Tabular Datasets
Platform: ESRI shapefiles and Microsoft Access database
Website: Web Soil Survey -


SSURGO is the result of the work of the US Department of Agriculture's National Cooperative Soil Survey, which has collected soils data for much of the United States. SSURGO is developed from fieldwork and analysis of aerial imagery and includes spatial data (ESRI shapefiles) and tabular data (Access databases).

The SSURGO data base provides the most detailed level of information available in USDA soils datasets, and was designed primarily for farm and ranch, landowner/user, township, county, or parish natural resource planning and management. Using the soil attributes, this database serves as an source for determining erodible areas and developing erosion control practices, reviewing site development proposals and land use potential, making land use assessments and chemical fate assessments, and identifying potential wetlands and sand and gravel aquifer areas. The spatial datasets are divided into approximately 18,000 soil series, which are further subdivided into soil phases for some areas of the country.

Tabular data for each major layer of soil include:

  • particle size distribution
  • bulk density
  • available water capacity
  • salinity
  • organic matter
  • soil reaction

Data on each soil include:

  • flooding
  • water table depth
  • depth to bedrock
  • soil subsidence

Use and management data include:

  • sanitary facilities
  • building site development
  • recreational development
  • construction material
  • crops
  • woodland suitability
  • wildlife habitat suitability
  • rangeland potential
  • water management

Accessing SSURGO Data

SSURGO data can be accessed via the Natural Resources Conservation Services' Web Soil Survey (WSS) portal. The WSS interface allows users to search for data for an entire state or an individual county. The data does not currently cover the entire United States. The dataset will be downloaded as a zipped filed containing spatial and tabular data.

Using the WSS interface to find SSURGO data for Dona Ana County, New Mexico.

Viewing a soil series SSURGO map of the Rio Grande Valley in Dona Ana County, NM in ArcMap.


USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Soil Survey Center. (1995). Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Data Base: Data Use Information. Miscellaneous Publication Number 1527.

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databases/soil_survey_geographic_database.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/08 17:12 by jgh