Forces of Change


Sizing Up Soils

For generations upon generations, we have lived on and learned to use soils. Soils sustain our world.

We size up soils every day. Why? Because we care about clean water and clean air, fresh tomatoes and fine wine, dams and dry basements, subway tunnels and superhighways, fields and forests, wildlife and weather.

Since humans first settled down, we have been sizing up soils. Today, soil scientists analyze soils and predict how they will behave. But scientists explore soils using tools and techniques—digging, touching, seeing, and smelling—that everyone can use.

Every soil’s life story is written in its structure, color, and patterns. You can read it by taking a closer look from the ground down.

Start sizing up soils and get ready
for surprises!


The Big Picture


How well do you know the world beneath your feet? Take our Soil Quiz and find out!

State Soil Monoliths

State Soil Monoliths

Pack your bags! Join us on a tour of the United States soils.

What is Soil?

What is Soil?

Discover how soils form, develop and change in surprising ways.

Chip Off the Old Block

Chip Off the Old Block

Learn how soils supply essential nutrients for living organisms.

Soil Forming Factors

A Top to Bottom Guide

Unlock the puzzle of soil layers.

Matters of Life and Death

Matters of Life and Death

Journey into soil, meet the critters, and learn about their cycles that create and sustain soils.

Underneath It All

Soil Sense for the Planet

Explore the ways for us to protect these vital natural resources.

Wise Choices

Wise Choices

Observe how people are learning how to create healthy new soils and restore damaged soils.

A World of Soils

At Home in Soil

Understand how soils touch our daily lives.