Soils in Nebraska

In Nebraska there are 138 soil series and many soil types and phases which further differentiate the soil series. Of these 138, 17 soil series constitute about 49 percent of the land area. From an agricultural perspective, this limited number of soils allows us to better study and understand soil-crop/forage production interactions and the impact of agricultural practices on the environment.

For many purposes, it is not advantageous to deal with individual soils. Soils have been further grouped by the similarities and differences related to the soil’s position on the landscape. These groupings are called associations. Each soil in the state belongs to one or more of the 44 soil associations (See General Soil Map of Nebraska).

Soil taxonomy holds the key to many management decisions about the wise use of soils that contribute to agricultural production, profitability, environmental quality and quality of life. Wildlife habitat, nitrate leaching, yield potential, pesticide runoff, sanitary facilities and recreational development are but a few of the issues related to how soil resources affect our lives daily (Table 1.3).


Table 1.3.  Potential use of four Nebraska soils. Ratings are generalized and may vary depending upon topography, soil type and soil phase


Potential for Holdrege Nora  Sharpsburg Valentine
Openland wildlife habitat Good Fair Good  Fair
Nitrate leaching Moderate Low Low High
Dryland crop yield potential Good Poor Good Poor
Pesticide runoff Low High High Low
Sanitary facilities/septic system Fair Fair Poor Good
Recreational development campground Good Moderate Moderate Poor