Fertile Ground: Soil Map Gives the Dirt on US

This soil map of the United States contains samples of each official state soil. (Image credit: Les Gregor)

Quick: What's your official state soil? If you're like most Americans, you probably have no idea what you've been standing on all these years — or that you even had an official state soil.

Well, wonder no more. Retired art director Les Gregor discovered a novel way to use his creative energies when he dropped a piece of tape on the ground. When he picked it up, according to Slate.com, it had a perfect, uniform coating of soil on its sticky side.

Gregor, 85, then decided to design a map of the United States with each state covered in a thin film of that state's official soil; state agriculture departments assisted by sending a sample of their finest soil to Gregor. On his map, Nebraska, for example, is covered with the state's dark brown Holdrege loam, while Maine is represented by its pale Chesuncook glacial soil.

Gregor sells his maps ($195 including framing) from his home in Montreal. Asked why he chose to develop maps of the United States and not his native Canada, he told Slate.com, "We only have 11 provinces and not as much soil variation. It would be boring."

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Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at About.com and a producer with ABCNews.com. His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and TheWeek.com. Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.