Soil Soil is the loose top layer of the earth's surface in which plant life can grow. Knowing your soil type is another part of your ecological address. What kind of soil do you find in your neighborhood? Is it red clay, sand, rich loam, a mixture of rocks and dirt, dark silt or something else? The kind of soil in an area can determine what happens when bare soil is exposed to wind and rain, what happens to toxic materials dumped on the soil, what kinds of plants can grow in it, and how much of the rainwater is taken up by plants before it reaches a stream. Soil type also influences what kinds of buildings or roads can be built, how quickly rainfall runs over and through it to the nearest stream and how much soil the rainwater takes with it on the way. Resources for Exploring your Soil Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Web Soil Survey With the Web Soil Survey from NRCS, you can determine the soils in your area and their suitability for a particular use. Use the Area of Interest tab to define the area you are interested in. Zoom in on a map and draw a box around your area or select from a choice list. You must select your area before you can go on to the next two steps. Next, click on the Soil Map tab to view and print a map of soils in your area. Third, click on the Soil Data Explorer tab to access soil data for your area. N.C. Division of Soil and Water Conservation The division provides programs, technical services and educational outreach promoting voluntary natural resource management and conservation on the private lands of NC through a non-regulatory, incentive-driven approach. The division cooperates with federal and local partners to administer a comprehensive statewide program to protect and conserve the state's soil and water resources. N.C. Soil and Water Conservation Districts Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District for information on conservation programs, working lands preservation, educational resources and contests and natural resource technical support. N.C. Department of Agriculture/Agronomic Division, Soil Test Section Offers free chemical analysis of soil, with detailed information on nutrient content, acidity and more.