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Field Services Bureau
The Cooperative Soil Survey

The Cooperative Soil Survey's principal goal is the development, maintenance and application of reliable soil resource information. The value of soil survey information is especially important as we deal with issues such as surface and groundwater quality, crop production efficiency and farm profitability, soil and water conservation, and urban and suburban development. It is the foundation for all land use planning decisions and is required by state law to determine land value and taxation. Current soil survey activities include:

  • Systematic update of the state’s oldest soil surveys to raise their quality to current standards of scale, correlation, and interpretation
  • Digitization of soil surveys to facilitate their application to current computer technologies
  • Technical services applying soil survey information to practical problems of land resource utilization
  • Outreach programs to provide soil survey training to local units of government and private vendors to encourage broader utilization of soils information
  • Public awareness programs to familiarize individuals with information available from the soil survey
  • Support for private sector initiatives such as the Certified Crop Advisor program

Currently, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service, Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station at Iowa State University and counties partner in supporting the Iowa Cooperative Soil Survey Program.

Field staff with a soil probe

Three soil profiles show the differences in slightly eroded versus eroded soils in central Iowa. Dark colored, highly productive soil is on the left


Adams County landscape

All the soils in Iowa have been serveyed and cataloged as part of the cooperative soil survey program by the State of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


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Mailing Address: IDALS,  Wallace State Office Building,   502 E. 9th Street,  Des Moines, IA 50319:     PH: 515-281-5321
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