The properties of each soil must be understood to ensure proper use and management. To consider the soil in land use planning and development, an inventory is essential in determining the location and extent of the various kinds of soil. This inventory is called a soil survey.
Soil surveys began in 1898 in the United States. The study of soils was initially conducted for agriculture and forestry, with little attention given to the ways in which soil properties might influence urban use of land. Modern soil surveys now include information about multipurpose uses of soils. These include interpretation information for wildlife management, development of parks and recreation areas, construction potentials for super highways, airports, and building foundations, selection of pipeline right-of-ways, evaluation of the pollution potential from septic tanks, selection of desirable spatial distribution patterns for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and recreational land use development, implementation of zoning and subdivision control, and land evaluation for equitable tax assessments and bank loan appraisals.