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Type 1 Soil Maps

The Ultimate Pre-Planning Tool

Fauquier County Soil Scientist Office

Department of Community Development
29 Ashby Street, Suite 310
Warrenton, Virginia 20186
Phone: 540-422-8240
Fax: 540-422-8201
Email the County Soil Scientist

Type I Soil Mapping

Thinking of purchasing property, subdividing your land or developing a farm plan? These are just a few reasons to request a Type I Soil Map from the Department of Community Development. This new service could save you money and lots of headaches down the road!


The County Soil Scientist recently completed updating the 1937 Soil Map to a rectified topographic base of 1 inch = 400 feet. This grid system and scale matches the Fauquier County Tax Maps.

The original Soil Survey for Fauquier County was conducted in 1942-1944 by seven soil scientists working for the United States Department of Agriculture and the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. These maps were made by walking over the landscapes, boring auger holes where different soils were anticipated and drawing the soil lines on 1937 aerial photos which were at a scale of 1 inch = 1,320 feet. An experienced soil scientist could map 200 to 300 acres per day. These soil maps were published in 1956 at 1 inch = 1,760 feet. The maps were produced primarily for agricultural use and great emphasis was placed on surface features that affected tillage.

By the late 1980's, all available copies of the 1956 publication had been distributed. At the same time, the County was developing its Geographic Information System (GIS) and a need for updated soil information was prevalent. The first soils layer for the GIS was done by taking the 1956 published soil map (1 inch = 1,760 feet) and refitting the soil lines to the current Tax Maps (1 inch = 400 feet). Since these soil maps had not been adjusted to fit the topography of the land (rectified), they had to be stretched to fit the County Tax Map base as best as possible. This first GIS soil layer consisted of soil line boundaries and labels. Many features that were on the original soil maps were not transferred to the GIS (e.g. rock outcrop, springs, drainageways, cemeteries, schools, churches, etc.)

In a move to further update the GIS soil layer, the County Soil Scientist Office was established in 1989. Evaluations determined that the semi-corrected soil lines on the first layer would need to be adjusted to a rectified topographic base. This made the adjusted soil lines more accurate in that the ridgetop soils were positioned on the ridges and drainageway soils fit the proper landscape position.

Now that the updated soil maps are complete, they indeed are the best available soils information for individual parcels. Copies of these updated soils maps, which overlay the County Tax Map, are located in the front office of Community Development. Along with the County Soil Interpretive Guide a landowner or potential buyer can obtain information on what soil types exist on a certain parcel and discover any limitations there may be for a proposed use.

Before any land use decision occurs, urban or agriculture, it is highly recommended that the updated soil map be consulted. Realizing the limitation of this soil map, the County Soil Scientist Office is providing a service, for a reasonable fee, that will offer much more detailed soils and cultural information to the land use decision maker. This service entails using the updated soil map as a base in conjunction with the latest aerial and topographic data to field map the different soil types and cultural features at 1 inch = 400 feet. The following maps are of an example of an 86 acre parcel showing the limited information of the soil survey map and the much more detailed information mapped at 1 inch = 400 feet.

County Soil Survey Map
86 acre parcel
(mapped at 1 inch = 1,320 feet)

Type 1 Soil Map
86 acre parcel
(mapped at 1 inch = 400 feet)

The Type I Soil Mapping Service will provide the greatest benefit if obtained before any type of urban or agricultural practices are planned. This would include subdivisions of land (including administrative lots), industrial or commercial uses, farm plans or special agricultural uses.

Benefits of Type I Soil Map

  • Locate Best Agricultural Lands
  • Potential Pond Sites
  • Best Placement of Open Space and Building Lots
  • Location of Hydric Soils (Possible Wetlands)
  • Drainfield Potential
  • Preview of Lot Layout When Subdividing (County Recommends Obtaining Type I Soil Map Before Administrative Lots are Determined)
  • Determine total density calculation which affects by-rights.

Date Last Modified: 08/27/2010


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