Just a bunch of dirt? You couldn't be more wrong!


Like snowflakes, no two soils are exactly the same. Each different kind of soil is called a series. These soil series are named for towns or local landmarks. More than 10,000 soil series have been named and described in the United States, and more are defined each year. There are about 479 soil series in Iowa.

Much of our life’s activities and pursuits are influenced by the soil beneath our houses, roads, sewage systems, airports, parks, recreational sites, farms, forests, schools and shopping centers. What is put on the land should be guided by the soil that is beneath it. A soil’s behavior, once known, is true for that type of soil no matter where the soil is located. Different soils, with great differences in properties, can occur within the same subdivision or field.

The mission of the Iowa Cooperative Soil Survey is to continue developing science-based soil system information, customized to meet users’ needs for natural resources management. A soil survey has text, tables and soil maps that help land users identify the potentials and limitations of soils. Soil surveys are prepared by soil scientists, who recognize and record the properties of the soil and predict soil behavior for a host of uses. These predictions, called soil interpretations, are developed to help users of soils manage the resource. Soil surveys of each Iowa county are available in three formats: as publications, on CDs, and online.