Soil Type & History

Soil type and history provide guidelines to setting soil health goals. The Ohio landscape includes a variety of soil types, natural history, and climatic factors which contribute to your soil’s inherent properties. Your soil parentage and recent land use history are important considerations when assessing and setting soil health management goals.

Ohio: A State of Natural Diversity

Ohio is divided into 12 soil regions, based primarily on soil parent materials and the glacial history of the state. [View a larger map of Ohio's soil regions (Ohio Department of Agriculture).] Ohio has more than 100 specific types of parent material. These include various solid bedrock, sediments left behind by ancient lakes, and rubble deposited by glaciers that once covered much of our state. Parent materials are further influenced by the weather patterns, terrain, and plant and animals life, which also varies greatly across the Buckey state. The below general descriptions of soil regions are from the Ohio Agronomy guide.

The Soil Explorer can provide local soil information and is easy to use. Ohio State's Soil Explorer tool, shows topography, fragipans, soil orders, drainage class, and dominant soil parent materials on an interactive map. This is a user-friendly online resource available to find more information on soil qualities. 

Other available tools include The NRCS Web Soil Survey. The US Department of Agriculture provides descriptions of specific soil series, including general drainage and texture characteristics at soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/osdname.aspx

Ohio: A State of Historical Diversity

Land use in Ohio has seen much change: drainage, deforestation, urbanization, mining. Your soil's history may be important to its condition and ability to support crops. Areas that have seen intense tillage or monoculture may have lost topsoil and organic matter due to erosion and non-regenerative practices. Residential backyards or restored industrial or mining sites may have had topsoil removed. Restorative practices can rebuild topsoil and organic matter. Some sites may also warrant testing for heavy metals, which is offered through the Ohio State D.I.R.T. lab. Drainage improvements may need to be reconsidered in light of changing weather patterns or water quality concerns.

Ohio's Soil Regions

Region 1: Hoytville-Nappanee-Paulding-Toledo 

This is the pink colored region in the northwest. Soil properties of Region 1 have been influenced by water impoundment during glaciation, which results in deposits of fine sediment in deeper areas of historical lakes and coarse sediments near lake margins. Textures of these soils range from fine (clay) to coarse (sand). Soil series in this region include Hoytville, Nappanee, Paulding, and Toledo. This region's soils often have high levels of clay and poor drainage. 

Region 2: Conotton-Conneaut-Allis

This is the dark red shaded region along the northeast state border. Soils in Region 2 have been influenced by successive levels of impounded water. The lake-plain soils of northeastern Ohio range from fine to coarse texture, but are generally more acidic than northwestern Ohio soils. 

Region 3: Blount-Pewamo-Glynwood

The light blue region in the northwest. Soils of Region 3 were developed in glacial till containing considerable limestome material and clay. Textures of these soils range from medium silt to fine clay.

Region 4: Miamian-Kokomo-Eldean

The medium blue region in the southwest of Ohio. Soils of Region 4 reflect a lesser influence of clay compared with the fine-textured soils of Region 1. The glacial till is medium textured. The amount of silty material in these soils increases from the north to the south, with values of 56 to 70 percent silt in the plow layer being common in the southern part of this region.

Region 5: Bennington-Cardinton-Centerburg 
Region 6: Mahoning-Canfield-Rittman-Chili

The dark blue central area is region 5, and the purple area to the northeast is region 6. The glacial till in Region 5/6 is predominately medium textured, with some areas of fine texture. Calcium carbonate (lime)content of the glacial till increases from earth to wet with the eastern area containing mostly sandstone and shale fragments, and the western area containing considerable limestone. Two soil properties peculiar to some of the soils in this area the high content of extractable aluminum, which increases lime requirements, and dense medium-textured subsoil pans.

Region 7: Clermont-Rossmoyne-Avonburg-Cincinnati

The peach colored region in the southwest. Region 7 is the oldest glaciated area in Ohio. The soils in this region are excessively weathered and extend to a considerable depth. Topsoil usually extends to a depth of 10 to 12 inches; total soil depth may exceed 8 feet although soil below the 5-foot depth contributes little to plant growth. The topography in many areas of this region is relatively flat and has inadequate drainage, which results in slow or very slow water movement through the subsoil.

Region 9: 

Region 9 soils are found in parts of Adams, Brown, and Highland counties. These soils were developed on sloping to steep, rolling topography in unglaciated areas of limestone and shale bedrock.

Regions 10-12

The green shaded areas in the south and southeast. Regions 10-12 contain the residual soils of Ohio. Glaciation has had little influence on the soils in this area, with the exception of the alluvial or terrace soils formed from the movement of glacially derived material down-stream into valleys. This soil region is in the foothills of the Appalachian plateau, and topotgraphy ranges from nearly level to extremely steep. These soil regions are developed on weathered materials derived from sandstone, shale, and limestone. Because considerable mass movement of material has occurred on these slopes, many of the soils are mixtures of bedrock materials.