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Soil Information

The Bay of Plenty has a number of different soils that make up the land in our region. Soil information in the Bay of Plenty can be accessed through Landcare Research's S-map website. Below are instructions on how to use this site to find out soil information for a particular area.

Follow this link to go to the Landcare Research S-map website

Also on this page is a list of useful links to soils and soil management in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, and overseas.

Instructions for using the S-map website to access information for Bay of Plenty soils 

In the opening screen, choose the "Maps & factsheets" option. Read and accept the "Terms and Conditions". Under "Location Search", type "Bay of Plenty" or a place name within the Bay of Plenty (e.g. Rotorua) and accept the auto-suggested place name. The map will zoom in to your selected place.

In the "Layers"section, click on "Soils" portion. It will now display the "S-map Polygons and Labels". Inside the map, click on your area or polygon of interest. An "S-map soil summary table" will pop out. Click on the soil name to access a pdf version of the fact sheet. Continue doing this for the rest of the soil names in your area of interest.

If necessary, adjust the scale of the map. To print the soil map of your area of interest, click on the Print icon. Use your mouse to adjust the extent of your area by making it smaller or bigger. Type the title of your map. Choose paper size A4 or A3 and map layout (portrait, landscape). Choose the map scale (1:50,000 etc.) Click create and download pdf. Click "Close"after printing or saving the pdf map.

If interested in other soil properties, tick on soil drainage, depth to hard rock/gravel/rock and soil moisture. Print your map as a downloadable pdf document as above.

Note:If you already know the name of the soil you are looking for, regional soil information may be obtained via the "Factsheets" tab.

(Alternatively, the factsheets can be obtained via the link Landcare Research Bay of Plenty Soil Information Factsheets.)

Select "Bay of Plenty Regional Council" and type the name or partial name of the soil (e.g. Katikati, etc.). Press the 'Enter' key or click 'Search'. A list of soil types will appear (e.g. Katikati sandy loam, Katikati hill soils). To open the soil factsheet, choose between a standard or customised report.

Web links for soils and soil management

The following links are information resources on soils and soil management within the Bay of Plenty region and relevant New Zealand and overseas web sites.

Bay of Plenty

Soils of the Bay of Plenty
Bay of Plenty Regional Council have developed booklets that cover the soils of the Western, Central and Eastern Bay of Plenty. They are intended to be used by farmers and other land managers as a guide to the recognition and management of the region's soils. The soil descriptions provide information on the occurrence and distribution of soils, selected soil physical and chemical properties, general land use suitability ratings, and generic soil management recommendations to improve production and/or protect the environment. Each booklet is a companion resource to complement the web soil map and fact sheets.

Land Management fact sheets
These provide topical information on land and soil management in the Bay of Plenty.


Other links


A brief introduction to New Zealand soils, soil functions, soil properties and soil classification from Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Soil properties for plant growth

This is a guide for recognising key soil properties important for the growing of crops.

Visual Soil Assessment (VSA) field guides and soil management guidelines

VSA is a quick and simple on-farm tool for monitoring the physical qualities of the soil and relating the assessment to crop production and environmental protection aspects of farming. Although an updated second edition has been produced, the original version of the field guides covering cropping and pastoral land uses on flat to rolling country and hill country land uses can be found here.

Visual Soil Assessment field guides (non-pastoral)

These are downloadable VSA field guides covering annual crops, orchard crops, vineyards and wheat.

Soil quality indicators website

SINDI (soil indicators) is a web-based tool designed to help users assess the quality or health of the soil using selected biological, chemical and physical properties.

Nutrient management

The Fertiliser Association website has the Code of Practice for Nutrient Management, nutrient management planning, and fact sheets and booklets on fertiliser use and nutrient management

Nutrient, water and effluent management (dairy)

Dairy NZ's Environment section of its Farming Resource Centre has information on nutrient management, effluent systems, water and climate change.

Overseer nutrient budgets model

OVERSEER is a free nutrient management software which assists farmers and their advisers to examine nutrient use and movements within a farm to optimise production and environmental outcomes.

Soil and nutrient management

The Ministry for Primary Industries website has information on erosion prevention and management, and nutrient management. It also has information on cadmium accumulation concern in agricultural soils and the e-newsletter Smart Farming.

Soil and plant testing

Hill Laboratories' Agricultural Testing Technical Notes provide a wealth of information on soil testing including soil sampling, types of soil tests, soil test interpretation, etc. Plant tissue and compost tests are also included.


Landwise's resources page includes publications covering a range of topics relating to sustainable cropping, irrigation, and a focus on precision agriculture.

Building soils for better crops

Written with farmers, gardeners and educators in mind, this is a practical guide to ecological soil management that provides background information as well as details of soil-improving practices. It gives the reader a holistic appreciation of the importance of soil health and suggests ecologically sound practices that help to develop and maintain healthy soils.

ATTRA National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (soils webpage)

This offers information on how to assess, improve and maintain soil health for both croplands and pastures. Several publications address fertilisation and composting specifically for organic production. Soil management can also play an important role in protecting water quality, and additional resources are listed on that topic.

Soil Conservation Technical Handbook

This provides details of recommended soil conservation practices to combat soil erosion in New Zealand.

Irrigation (general)

Irrigation New Zealand's website contains information on all aspects of irrigation including the irrigation manual, codes of practice, etc.

Irrigation (horticultural crops)

Crop IR Log is a freely downloadable software tool for scheduling irrigation of horticultural crops including grapes, kiwifruit, pipfruit, and summerfruit. It is being co-developed by Plant & Food Research, HortPlus and Hawke's Bay Regional Council.


An overview of earthworms (native and introduced species) and the important role they play in New Zealand agriculture.

Guide to New Zealand soil invertebrates

This site provides information on New Zealand soil and litter invertebrates, their diversity, biology, ecosystem role, and conservation status. The pages contain photos of these soil animals.

Soil biology video clips

This page contains video clips of organisms that live in the soil ranging from earthworms, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, mites, nematodes, and many more.