Prime Farmland and Hydric Soils

Where to find prime farmland, hydric, and other soil characteristics in your report.

Overview

Transect uses the USDA Gridded Soil Survey Geographic (gSSURGO) Database for the Conterminous United States to provide soil information to Transect users. Soils data is useful for many reasons - you can learn more about constructability, saturation, hydric classification, erosion hazard, and many other soil characteristics that may affect your project.

How to View Soil Data

To view soils information in your Transect Report, click on the Setting tab in the lefthand navigation column in your Transect Report, then click Soils. A table display with all of the soil unit on the project. Click any row (or Shift + Click to select more than one row) in the table to view the soil unit in the map. 

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A complete list and description of each of the columns in the Transect soils table is available from the USDA here.  Next we have provided information on two soils characteristics that are commonly asked about by our users: prime farmland and hydric soils.

Prime Farmland

Prime farmland is land that has the best physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops and is also available for these uses. As such, prime farmland may require consideration as part of federal or local permitting.

In the soils table in your Transect Report, scroll to the right in the table until you find the Farm Class column. 

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Several categories may apply to soils on your project:

  • Prime Farmland: land that has the best physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops and is also available for these uses. This may trigger additional permitting requirements in federal NEPA documents as well as some state or local permits.
  • Unique Farmland: Land other than prime farmland that is used for the production of specific high-value food and fiber crops, such as citrus, tree nuts, olives, cranberries, and other fruits and vegetables
  • Farmland of Statewide Importance: Soils that nearly meet the requirements for prime farmland and that economically produce high yields of crops when treated and managed according to acceptable farming methods.
  • Not prime farmland: Soils that do not meet any qualifications for special designation.

Hydric Soils

In the soils table in your Transect Report, scroll to the right in the table until you find the Hydric Rating column. This field that indicates whether or not a map unit component is classified as a hydric soil.

  • "Hydric" means that all major and minor components listed for a given map unit are rated as being hydric.
  • "Predominantly Hydric" means that all major components listed for a given map unit are rated as hydric, and at least one contrasting minor component is not rated hydric.
  • "Partially Hydric" means that at least one major component listed for a given map unit is rated as hydric, and at least one other major component is not rated hydric.
  • "Predominantly Nonhydric" means that no major component listed for a given map unit is rated as hydric, and at least one contrasting minor component is rated hydric.
  • "Nonhydric" means no major or minor components for the map unit are rated hydric. The assumption is that the map unit is nonhydric even if none of the components within the map unit have been rated.

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Sources

USDA. SSURGO/STATSGO2 Structural Metadata and Documentation. Available at: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/soils/survey/geo/?cid=nrcs142p2_053631

USDA. State Soil Data Access (SDA) Hydric Soils Rating by Map Unit. Available at: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcseprd1389479.html

USDA. State Soil Data Access (SDA) Prime and other Important Farmlands. Available at: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcseprd1338623.html#top