Soil Survey Lesson

By Gregory Paul Pavlik


Use materials available to learn about local soils


  • Laboratory Handouts
  • Local County Soil Surveys

Background Information:

This activity is written for Osmond, Nebraska using the Pierce County Soil Survey. This is a model that could be adapted for any location in any county. The amount of information found in the County Soil Survey's is incredible. As a result , a teacher could focus on soil chemistry, land management, or environmental science just to name a few.


According to the Pierce County Soil Survey issued in 1976 there were 366,720 acres of land in the county. Osmond, a community of approximately 800 people. It is located in the North Central part of the county on Highway 20. Osmond is situated between the west branch and the north branch of the Elkhorn river. In this activity students will use this soil survey to describe and evaluate the soils that surround their school.

  1. Using the "Index to Map Sheet" in the back of the survey, find the map sheet that contains Osmond. Note that on the opposite side of the index there is a soil legend and a conventional signs legend that we will use later.
  2. Using the soil survey map that contains Osmond, list all the soil symbols that are found in the village of Osmond and near the school.
  3. Using the soil legend on the other side of the map index, name these soils.
  4. What does the third letter in the soil symbol represent?
  5. What does the "C" in MoC tell you?
  6. What does it mean when there is not a third letter? For example the soil type Tw.
  7. Beginning on page 10 of the soil survey, write a summary of each soil series. Be sure to include what the soils are best suited for and the windbreak suitability.
  8. How many acres of each of the soil is found in Pierce County? (Use Table 1, page 11)
  9. What percent is that of the total number of acres in Pierce County? (Use Table 1 , page 11)
  10. Using Table 7 & and the "Formation & Classification of Soils" on page 98, Describe the parent material for each of the listed soils.
  11. List the 5 characteristics that determine a soil.
  12. The soils in Pierce County developed entirely in _______________________?(Page 99)
  13. Which of the soils listed is referred to as being mature?
  14. What makes a soil a mature soil?


  • We are planning on planting a Native grass/wildflower area off the NW corner of the football field. Use Table 4 to study if there are any concerns about the ability of the soil(s) to grow this type of vegetation.
  • We also have a plan to plant trees/scrubs for wildlife habitat. Using the windbreak suitability from question #7 and Table 3 on page 68, Answer the following situations.
  • An alumni family would like to donate 10 shrubs of Buffalo berry. Based upon the information in Table 3, would we expect good success with this type of shrub? Why or why not?
  • The same family says that they have 10 American honeysuckle shrubs to donate. Based upon the information in Table 3, how would you expect this type of shrub to grow?
  • Using Table 3 , Name 3 broadleaf trees and 3 conifers that are rated as good in the windbreak suitability group.
  • Look through the soil survey and list 4 additional uses for the soil survey. What types of information if found in the survey that could help you in a specific decision making process.