Agricultural capability of soils web maps now on ArcGIS Online

by Michael Dangermond, Senior Digital Cartographer, Esri

Agricultural capabilityTwo new web map applications showing agricultural capability for the soils of the United States are now on ArcGIS Online: Agricultural Capability of Soils and Agricultural Capability of Soils with Prime Farmland.  Find out where the best agricultural lands are, and if there are any soil limitations.  Find out where to find Prime Farmland, which takes into consideration soil quality, growing season, and moisture supply needed for the agricultural productivity to sustainably produce high yields of crops.

The maps are based on the NRCS SSURGO dataset – in particular the property in the SSURGO called land capability classNRCS rates soils of the United States by their ability to support farming of common crops without deterioration of the soil over long periods of time.  There are eight classes of soils in this system.  Class I is the best, with the least limitations, and classes I-IV are recommended for cultivation.  In the map, these classes are colored green to yellow.  Classes V-VIII are difficult to impossible to support cultivation of common crops and the NRCS recommends them for other purposes, such as pasture or habitat.  In the map, these classes are colored yellow to brown.  The color scheme makes it easy to see where the good soils are on the map with just a glance.

Clicking on a soil map unit gives information in plain English to the map reader, both about what the classes mean, and also what the class would be if the land were irrigated.

Agricultural Capability of Soils

To see all the soil maps and tools that are currently available, visit the Esri Soil Resource Center at

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  1. wilbev says:


    Sorry to bother you about this again in case you are well aware. I’m noticing that the soil type names listed in the pop-up windows are not accurate, at least in the areas I have checked. Hopefully there is a way to fix this. This is definitely great information. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. mdangermond says:

    Hi Wilbev, Thanks again for pointing this out to me. The information is currently being fixed. The trouble is the nifty text descriptions in the popups are not ready as a companion to the new version of the data. These will be done by the User Conference (!) and are taking a LONG time to calculate in the cloud. Fortunately there are alternate versions of the map you can use as a source that is accurate now, but it doesn’t have any of those cool text descriptions. To use the new maps now, you want to look at the Esri Soil Mobile and Web Map versions of NonIrrigated Capability Class and Irrigated Capability Class . These two maps use the new, accurate data but do not have the fancy text descriptions… so when you click on a polygon you’ll get the number 2 or something… I’ll have a lot of experience to share at the User Conference this year for those who want to go down the same path we did! Thanks, Michael